Study Reveals US Consumers Seek Clarity From Retailers on Food Labeling

A staggering 76% of US consumers have unintentionally consumed food restricted from their diet

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New York, January 15, 2019:  New US research by Spoon Guru has found that 33% of Americans who have accidentally purchased food that does not align to their dietary requirements do so on a weekly basis – of which 49% said it was due to poor labelling.

The research also revealed 76% of US consumers have unintentionally consumed food restricted from their diet, with the number one reason being that over half of respondents (52%) have been served the wrong food as an error by waiting staff in bars and restaurants. Meanwhile, 37% listed poor food labeling as the second most common reason for purchasing incorrect products.

The worst affected were Vegans, with 45% saying they suffer the most from vague or non-existent ingredient labeling when trying to find the right food. Analyzing how female consumers fare against males, the data revealed that a third of men (34%) made errors when there were no product labels, whereas only a quarter of females (25%) made the same mistake.

While grocery shopping is a simple task for most, almost 30% of those surveyed find it daunting. The data found Americans aged between 25 and 44, who have some form of exclusion diet, struggle the most when shopping for foods online or at supermarkets. The research also revealed that vegans and vegetarians have the greatest challenge when it comes to food discovery, with 41% finding it difficult to match products to their preferences.

The study was commissioned to look into the struggles of consumers throughout the US that have food allergies, intolerances or lifestyle diets, with some shocking finds.

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People struggle to find suitable foods across the board.  Eating out, dining with friends or family and shopping are big problem areas. Only 7 % have no problems at all.

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In what scenarios do you find it most difficult to manage your dietary requirements? Grocery shopping, Eating Out, Dinner, Canteen, Events, Not Difficult

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A lack of clear labelling and human error are the main reasons why people accidentally eat foods that don’t comply with their diets.

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Why was it you accidentally purchased or were served food that didn't align to your dietary requirements?

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33% of respondents say that mistakes happen at least once a week.

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How often do you accidentally purchase or are served food that doesn't align to your dietary requirements?

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Vegans suffer the most from a lack of food labeling.

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Percentage of people by dietary group who have been served or bought inappropriate foods on a weekly basis

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The younger you are the more likely you are to consume foods that don’t match your dietary preferences.

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Have you accidentally purchased or been served food that doesn’t align to your dietary requirements? Results by age.

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Looking at shopping specifically, the younger age groups are also much more likely to struggle with grocery shopping.

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Age groups of those who find online & in-store grocery shopping difficult because of their dietary requirements

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Men admit to making more mistakes than women when there are no product labels.

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Percentage of people able to find food when there are no labels available

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61% think their dietary restriction costs them more money

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How much extra do you think you spend per month on food due to your dietary requirements?

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Keto shoppers spend the most to ensure compliance with their diet.

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Percentage of shoppers who think they spend more than $40 extra per month because of their dietary requirements

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76% of US consumers believe technology will play a key role in improving food ingredient transparency while only 5% disagreed.

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Percentage of people who agree that technology is key to improving transparency around food ingredients

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86% Believe retailers have a responsibility to be transparent about food ingredients, regardless of current legislation. 82% Support new regulations concerning better food labeling

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Summary

Clearly, retailers and food businesses in general that can make the experience associated with food shopping and eating out more efficient and reliable will greatly benefit from improved customer satisfaction.

With an increase of US consumers adopting exclusion diets, whether due to an allergy or intolerance or simply just a lifestyle choice, there is a clear need to make food discovery much more inclusive.

The study found there is overwhelming support (86%) for the idea that retailers should go above and beyond the current regulations to improve ingredient clarity, and the general feeling among US consumers is for on-trade and off-trade retailers to take more accountability where food labeling is concerned.

The data also revealed that well over half of consumers (76%) believe that the use of technology will be a key enabler to solving the shortcomings surrounding food labeling transparency. While there are a lot of learnings and discussions to be had about how to make food discovery and shopping accessible, the great news for consumers in the US and around the world is that more and more food businesses like restaurants and retailers are open to using smart technology as a platform to cater for people who have specific dietary requirements.

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About our survey respondents

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Type of diets and most common diets, allergies, and intolerances of Spoon Guru survey respondents

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Data collected in December 2018  from a survey of 2,000 US adults who follow a lifestyle diet or have a food intolerance or allergy.

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By |2019-02-26T16:48:23+01:00January 11th, 2019|Blog, Spoon Guru News|