Barriers to healthy eating

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

When choosing what to eat, 55% of consumers claim health is important (AHDB/Blue Marble, August 2021). Yet only 28% of total food and drink servings are chosen for health reasons, with enjoyment (78%), and practicality (56%) being the primary driving factors behind the food and drink we consume (Kantar 12 w/e 31 October 2021).

Consumer concern

64% of consumers agree that eating healthy is more expensive (IGD, October 2021), therefore, providing value for money to the consumer is vital, as price is a key factor behind what we consume. In addition, previous AHDB research found that in times of economic pressure such as the credit crunch in 2008 and the run up to Brexit, health becomes less of a priority as consumers look toward comfort and indulging foods to make themselves feel better.

42% of consumers aren’t confident nutritional claims are correct, as advice changes regularly and there is a multitude of misinformation, especially in terms of negative health claims when it comes to red meat and dairy. A further 50% find it difficult to read nutritional claims on pack as the text is too small and icons used can be confusing (IGD, October 2021). Consumers need to be able to identify and understand the tangible benefit they gain from purchasing foods which have positive health benefits such as red meat and dairy, otherwise they cannot justify buying these products, especially if they hold a price premium.

In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the mental and physical health of consumers, with 41% claiming their mental health has worsened, and 33% saying their physical health has deteriorated (Foresight Factory, 2021). A study conducted by the IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies) found that because of governmental restrictions and consumers spending more time at home, 90% of households increased their calorie intake throughout the pandemic. This increase was driven by takeaways, which peaked at more than double the pre-pandemic level.  

Key opportunities

  • With more people working from home and set to continue working from home, there is a great opportunity to encourage healthier homemade lunches. This will become more of a priority as consumers feel the economic pinch. Key lunch time meals include sandwiches, toast meals, pastries and pies, Italian food, pizza, and salad all of which can include red meat or dairy
  • As households face financial pressure, for those back in the office out-of-home occasions are likely to be impacted, and we may see more consumers favour a return to lunchboxes, benefiting dairy products like cheese and sliced cooked meats
  • In addition, provide recipe inspiration for healthier home cooked evening meals or ‘fake aways’, which include red meat and dairy, that are both healthier and reduce the cost of having a weekly takeaway
  • In the past, when there has been pressure on consumer finances, fewer food and drink choices are made for health reasons, so continue to highlight the positive health benefits red meat and dairy provide, and link to tangible benefits for instance vitamin B12 and iron are proven to reduce tiredness and fatigue. Find out more on the health claims companies can make about red meat here
  • Reassure consumers of the vital role red meat and dairy play in a healthy balanced diet. Read more on how AHDB is working with the industry to address this issue here

To find out more on key reputational topics, such as health, that can impact the red meat and dairy industry, check out our consumer reputational landscape page