Tate & Lyle study finds consumers becoming increasingly educated about food and are questioning the health profile of their favourite brands

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Consumers have become more concerned about healthy eating over the past two years and are more aware of, and educated about, the issues relating to a healthy diet, according to research from Tate & Lyle, a global leader in renewable ingredients. This increase in awareness has been fuelled by government campaigns and media debates, such as Jamie Oliver’s crusade to improve school dinners. The debate about children’s diet has been key, with steps taken in both Britain and France to control the types of food available in schools. Tate & Lyle, one of the world’s largest food ingredient companies, has been commissioning bespoke consumer insight research programmes for the past two years in Western Europe, monitoring attitudes towards diet, health and food issues. The research is a mix of qualitative research discussions and quantitative polling data obtained from representative samples of shoppers in Britain, France and Germany. The increase in concern about and awareness of health issues has caused consumers to question the nutritional value of food they buy and consume on a regular basis and to become sceptical about brand claims. When asked, 65% of consumers agreed with the statement ‘often brands that claim to be healthy aren’t healthy at all’. Key findings from the study include:
  • Consumers are looking for ways to improve their diet, with 66% of respondents across Europe agreeing that ‘I am always looking for ways to eat more healthily’ (70% UK, 74% France and 56% Germany).
  • More than eight in ten consumers (84%) know that eating fruit and vegetables is key to a healthy diet. 92% of British consumers believe in the importance of fresh fruit compared with German consumers (89%) and French consumers (70%).
  • Fat and sugar are the top two elements that consumers believe they should limit to make their diets more healthy and are the most frequently requested ingredients to be reduced in a wide variety of foods. Eight in ten people (82%) believe that fat ‘needs to be limited to have a healthy diet’ and 75% of people felt the same way about sugar.
  • One in two adults (51%) say that they are solely responsible for what they eat. When consumers were asked what other influences there are on their diet, popular choices included: family and friends (46%), brands and advertising (28%), the media (17%), retailers (14%).*
  • Only 27% of parents believe they solely influence what their children eat. Family and friends (68%), brands and advertising (30%), schools (30%), government (17%) were popular choices as additional influences.*
  • Parents are concerned about brands that target their children with 74% believing ‘food and drinks marketed at kids are often unhealthy’.
  • Cutting back on alcohol is seen as important for a healthy diet by 47% of Europeans, but there are big differences between France (22%) and Germany (68%).
*Selected from a detailed list of potential influencing factors. The list of factors was generated based on our understanding from the qualitative research discussions. Tate & Lyle’s qualitative studies show that there are some differences between the British, French and German attitudes towards food. Balance and moderation are central to French and German eating, whereas in the UK whilst a balanced diet is seen as a good idea, it is not the reality of everyday eating. Consequently, there is a more negative attitude towards food in the UK, where some foods are labelled ‘bad’ and others ‘good’. Across Europe, while consumers are becoming more concerned about the health consequences of their diet, the majority of people still believe that taste is the most important factor in determining what they eat. More than two in five consumers (42%) agreed that enjoying food is more important than nutrition, while one in three people (33%) argue that taste and health are equally important. The remaining 25 % of respondents were ambiguous, not agreeing with any stated view. This research has informed and influenced the development of Tate & Lyle’s new REBALANCE™ Solution Sets, which are designed to help manufacturers satisfy this consumer demand. REBALANCE™ Solution Sets are co-processed combinations of ingredients that allow food manufacturers to achieve certain goals, such as calorie or fat reduction in a product, without compromising on taste and texture. The Solution Sets use innovative ingredients like SPLENDA® Sucralose and other Tate & Lyle speciality starches and sweeteners. “People want to eat healthier diets but they want the full taste of indulgence brands. There is no room for compromise,” says Rachel Moffatt, European Marketing Manager at Tate & Lyle. “Our REBALANCE™ Solution Sets mean that manufacturers can ensure that their trusted brands can deliver on both taste and nutrition, and that consumers can pick up these products with confidence.” SPLENDA® is a trademark of McNeil Nutritionals, LLC
About the research Tate & Lyle conducted the qualitative research through a series of 2.5 hour discussion groups in Britain, France and Germany respectively. Pre-sensitisation tasks included completing a seven day “food diary”, supplying shopping till receipts and asked about their most/least favourite foods. The quantitative research was undertaken by interviewing 1,444 face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of main household shoppers in Britain, France and Germany. About CORE™ Tate & Lyle’s Solutions Sets, marketed under the CORE™ service offering, combine leading ingredients with industry segment knowledge: TATE & LYLE CREATE®: innovations for the future of your product range TATE & LYLE OPTIMIZE®: driving out costs in products and processes TATE & LYLE REBALANCE®: creating and reformulating products to new health profiles TATE & LYLE ENRICH™: enhancing brand nutrition

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About Tate & Lyle: 
Tate & Lyle PLC is a leading global provider of food and beverage ingredients and solutions. Supported by our 160-year history of ingredient innovation, we partner with customers to provide consumers with healthier and tastier choices when they eat and drink. We are proud that millions of people around the world consume products containing our ingredients every day.

Through our expertise in sweetening, mouthfeel and fibre fortification, our Food & Beverage Solutions business develops solutions which reduce sugar, calories and fat, add fibre, and provide texture and stability in categories including beverages, dairy, bakery, soups, sauces and dressings. Our Primary Products business produces nutritive sweeteners, industrial starches used in paper and packaging, acidulants and products used for animal nutrition.

We have around 4,400 employees working in more than 60 locations across 30 countries. Tate & Lyle’s purpose is Improving Lives for Generations and through our purpose we believe we can successfully grow our business and have a positive impact on society. We live our purpose in three ways, by supporting healthy living, building thriving communities and caring for our planet.

Tate & Lyle is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol TATE.L. American Depositary Receipts trade under TATYY. In the year to 31 March 2021, Tate & Lyle sales totalled £2.8 billion. For more information, please visit https://www.tateandlyle.com or follow Tate & Lyle on TwitterLinkedin or Facebook.