Over 80% of UK consumers claim to follow healthy diet in 2012, a 10% increase from 2004, new report states; 95% see eating fresh produce as important

LONDON , November 8, 2012 (press release) – Health has been a dominant trend in the UK over recent years, affecting the food and beverage industry through the re-formulation and introduction of new 'healthy(ier) style' products in a number of categories. According to a new report from Leatherhead Food Research, a leading UK-based independent research organisation which supports clients in the food, drink and related industries across the world, this trend shows no signs of abating with an increasing number of consumers indicating a greater awareness of health and well-being.

Leatherhead Food Research's new report, Diet, Health and Obesity in the UK: State of the Nation 2012, reveals that over 80% of consumers in 2012 claimed to follow a healthy diet (an increase of 10% since 2004). Furthermore, compared to research conducted in 2004, there is a broader level of understanding towards what constitutes a 'healthy' diet, which now includes a greater emphasis upon factors such as eating fresh fruit and vegetables (95% see this as important in 2012), having a balanced diet (87% in 2012) and drinking enough fluid (74% in 2012); these are increases since 2004 of 20%, 24% and 26% respectively. A higher intake of oily fish and a diet low in salt/sugar are factors which have also increased in importance since the previous research in 2004.

At the other end of the scale, there is also a change in what is perceived as unhealthy. Of course, fat is still perceived as the main contributor to an unhealthy diet (for both years reviewed around two-thirds of consumers believe too much fat in the diet is unhealthy); however consumers now possess a more diverse opinion of unhealthy foods. Factors such as too much carbohydrate (19% of consumers in 2004 vs. 45% in 2012) and not drinking enough fluid (18% of consumers in 2004 vs. 43% in 2012) are thought to be important by greater numbers of consumers since this was first measured in 2004.

Laura Kempster, Senior Analyst in Leatherhead's Sensory, Consumer and Market Research department says: "Broadly speaking, this research indicates a greater engagement with our health and the food we consume. According to Leatherhead’s findings, a greater proportion of consumers now, compared to 2004, find time to cook from scratch, exercise and are generally more informed and engaged with food. This presents numerous opportunities for the food and beverage industry to create products which meet these needs; and our new report will help them to identify and exploit these opportunities."

With a length over 100 pages, Diet, Health and Obesity in the UK: State of the Nation 2012 will provide the reader with the following:

Original research and analysis of UK consumers’ perceptions and attitudes towards diet, health and obesity

A comparison of behaviours and opinions of consumers in 2004 and 2012

A UK market overview of key product categories including analysis of new products launched, with particular attention paid to 'healthy' and 'good for you' platforms

Summary analysis of the key strategic implications and key priorities for the food and beverage industry

With over 90 years’ experience supporting clients in the food, drink and related industries across the world, Leatherhead’s new report offers an unbiased and expert insight for readers into understanding which health and wellness issues are most important to the UK population, understanding how food and drink companies are responding to the need for healthier styles of products, and identifying key priorities for the industry. The full report Diet, Health and Obesity in the UK: State of the Nation 2012 is available from Leatherhead Food Research, priced at GBP3,250 + VAT, with a discounted price of GBP2,500 + VAT available to Leatherhead Members. Visit www.leatherheadfood.com/diet-health-obesity for more details, or contact publications@leatherheadfood.com.

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