Shift to Healthy Living a Struggle for Most Consumers, IRI Study Finds

CHICAGO -- Healthy living is a growing trend, but for many Americans it is a slow and gradual process, according to the latest IRI Times & Trends Report, "The Healthy Eating Evolution."

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. consumers are still overweight or obese, and most are not eating the daily recommended servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, the report finds. However, the reportís authors suggest that consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers and retailers can accelerate the shift to healthier lifestyles by getting ahead of consumer demand and making healthy eating easy, affordable, and accessible to all.

"Consumers are increasing consumption of healthier products, but they are not doing enough to meet health goals," said IRI global chief marketing officer Andrew Salzman in a statement. "If manufacturers and retailers can address consumer hurdles to healthier eating, such as price, time constraints, taste, availability, and information, they can help consumers get a jump start on healthy living, while growing brand, category, and store sales."

On a positive note, the report finds that three-quarters of U.S. consumers said that they are making changes in their diets in an effort to eat healthier. These changes are surfacing in such areas as increased spending on fruits and vegetables and "light" products. Functional foods and beverages, such as Dannon's popular Activia yogurt with probiotics that aid digestion, are set to ìsoar,î according to IRI, as consumers increasingly recognize wellness benefits beyond basic nutrition.

Unfortunately, consumers are woefully behind in whole grain and fruit and vegetable consumption relative to dietary guidelines, the report suggests. ìThis is an enormous growth opportunity that will require increasing availability of great tasting products offering servings of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains throughout the store, education regarding specific health benefits, and clear identification of these products in the store,î the reportís authors said.
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