11th January 2021: With 90% of Americans claiming to be actively taking steps to strengthen their immune systems, consumers are calling on supermarkets to offer more support in helping them fortify their bodies and eat better. With the nation setting new records for cases and deaths as the new COVID-19 strain spreads, research reveals that less than half (43%) believe supermarkets are currently making it easier for shoppers to locate healthy produce. In response, 40% are calling on supermarkets to help them eat more healthily, as many find it difficult to navigate healthy food options within the store, with 57% claiming products aren’t labeled clearly enough. Meanwhile 50% say that online shopping makes it clearer and easier to identify nutrient-dense products. 

Our study found that consumers are also seeking support from the government with more than two-thirds (67%) urging the government to do more to educate consumers about how unhealthy eating can impact susceptibility to viruses and infections. Half (45%) want the government to work more closely with the food industry to promote healthy eating. 

Since the outbreak of Coronavirus, the survey unveiled that 78% of Americans are now paying more attention to their health. Consumers surveyed also revealed that they have specific requirements which they expect retailers to help them with – 30% are seeking advice on allergy management; 30% are wanting help with plant based diets; and 22% are looking for obesity support (dieting programs).

Despite the bid to pay more attention to their health, the findings reveal that only half are supporting the notion of ‘food being medicine’ by strengthening their immune systems with fruit and veg. The top foods Americans are choosing to support their immunity are: Bananas (42%), Salads (42%), Eggs (38%), Citrus fruits (37%), Fresh juices (37%), Apples (and other stone fruits) (36%), Nuts (36%), Grapes (32%), Tomatoes (30%), Milk and Dairy products (26%).

Whilst in the midst of the worst public health scare of a generation, the findings also reveal that 4 in 10 Americans are not taking vitamins to fortify their bodies, and more than 1 in 10 (13%) are still unaware of what vitamins they should be taking.

The findings also show, however, that 13% admit that they have been eating more indulgent foods or eating more in general to relax. Of those surveyed, only 24% have given up sugary foods, a mere 17% have given up alcohol and less than a third (29%) have ditched fast food. 

Dr Adrian Hodgson, Chief Health Officer at Spoon Guru comments: “The challenge is finding the right foods and clearly retailers need to think of new innovative ways to influence the shopper journey. Shoppers need to see the foods that will help them fulfil a need such as immunity.

“It’s reassuring that many Americans are eating more immune strengthening fruit and veg with a view to aiding their health, however, it’s clear from our  findings that they are missing a trick or two when it comes to wise diet choices. Fruit dominates the top ten immune supporting foods for Americans. Packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols fruit is essential for strong immunity. The difficult part is ensuring we all incorporate it into our diets through helpful, quick and easy recipes. Fruit juice – the nation’s fifth favourite health product – can be a good way of getting some immune supporting nutrients, but should be consumed in smaller amounts to avoid overconsumption of free sugars. Shockingly fruit juice can contain just as much, if not more, sugar than a soft drink. 

Dr Adrian Hodgson continues: “Our findings uncover that while half of consumers know to choose certain foods to help support their immune system, there is a large proportion of people who do not. The challenge remains –  how can we all select better foods such as plant based and whole foods (fruit, vegetables, fibre rich foods) to support a healthy immune system? With so much choice on the market, it really is a minefield out there, and with the current health crisis, consumers need more help than ever when it comes to navigating healthy food options. Spoon Guru’s ‘Immunity Support TAG’ was built exactly with this in mind – our technology can safely process and classify hundreds of thousands of products to help shoppers in seconds, giving consumers up and down the country the peace of mind they need in these challenging times.”

Spoon Guru’s 5 retail hacks to change shopper behavior and help shape better choices for immune support are:

  1. Front of store merchandising of whole foods
  2. On shelf labeling of immunity supporting foods
  3. Goal based shopper engagement through digital enablers like Healthy SwapsTM
  4. Curated content to nudge shoppers to make healthier choices (through print, on their websites and newsletters and via social media)
  5. Discount / rewards for buying immune supporting foods