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The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation is out with its
“Food Decision 2016: The Impact of a Growing National Food Dialogue" survey, concluding that "significant numbers of Americans have changed their minds or behaviors around food and nutrition issues," with many of those changes driven by media coverage of the issues.

Some excerpts:

• "This year, 47 percent of Americans said they look at the ingredients list on foods or beverage packages when deciding what to purchase, up from 40 percent in 2015."

• "When Americans define what makes a food healthy, it’s becoming more about what isn’t in a food rather than what is in it. Thirty-five percent of Americans define a “healthy” food as one that does not contain (or has low levels) of certain components such as fat and sugar, the top response when asked in an open-ended question."

• "The survey asked whether Americans’ opinions had changed about a number of dietary components. An average of 31 percent changed their minds about at least one of them, for better or worse. In most cases, media headlines and articles were at or near the top of the sources that altered consumers’ opinions."

• "The media were a top source that caused a less healthful view of enriched refined grains, saturated fat, added sugars, and low-calorie sweeteners. Whole grains, protein from plant sources, and natural sugars were among the dietary components that gained a more healthful opinion from consumers based on media headlines."

• "Americans also want to know more about their food and are changing their behaviors based on what they learn. According to the survey, 44 percent read a book or article, or watched a movie or documentary, examining the food system and/or commonly held beliefs about diet. About one-quarter of Americans either changed their food purchasing decisions (26 percent) or engaged with friends, family, or coworkers (23 percent) based on what they read or viewed."

• "Similar to previous years, 57 percent describe themselves as being in very good or excellent health. However, those views are often at odds with health status as judged by Body Mass Index (BMI). Out of those describing themselves as being in very good health, 51 percent are actually overweight and 33 percent are obese. Of those describing themselves in excellent health, 11 percent are overweight and 6 percent are obese."
KC's View:
It always has been the contention around here that the retailers and suppliers who understand and exploit the information continuum will be the ultimate winners. They understand that if they tell their story well, providing useful and actionable information to consumers who themselves are increasingly hooked into the information continuum, they can create relationships that result in sales and profits. That doesn't mean that information remains static, or that everybody will get it right all the time. But it does mean that information and transparency can be enormously effective as customer-facing tools.