Younger consumers willing to pay double for vitamin-rich beverages, study reveals
04 Jul 2022 --- Consumer demand and political pressure is pushing the food industry to make a difference in offering more nutritious choices. The younger population aged 18-24 showed an increased willingness to pay for healthy drinks when dining out, as compared to the older population.
The study was conducted by the University of South Australia, Flinders University (AU) and the University of Otago (New Zealand). With over 1,000 participants in the experiment, a comparison was made between age and patterns of dining out.
“Hospitality firms and beverage manufacturers deal with well-informed consumers who read product labels and assess ingredients and additives. So, the healthiness of the product must be scientifically supported and validated by reputable bodies,” says Ilke Onus, associate professor, Flinders University.
Those who were out more often also showed an increased willingness to pay “a larger premium” compared to those consuming most products at home.
Among the participants, 27% reported being willing to pay double the price for beverages without or a low amount of sugar, additives, and additional vitamins and minerals.
“Drink sales represent up to 40% of foodservice revenues. By improving the healthiness of dining out (or eating in) across the entire menu, including drinks, restaurants could capitalize on this opportunity,” says Dr. Craig Lee, co-researcher at the University of Otago.
With the increased popularity of dining out, take-away and purchases from foodservice establishments, there has also been increased criticism of public health. Meals consumed away from home usually lack the same nutritional value as food eaten at home.
Health improvements required
Food eaten out often contains higher amounts of fat, sugar and salt, and the portion sizes are usually larger. Beverages tend to be higher in sugar and calories when bought through hospitality and food establishments.
These factors lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, obesity has “nearly tripled since 1975.” In 2016, 39% of the global adult population was overweight, and 13% were obese.
What used to be dominant in high-income countries took a turn as most obese and overweight children in the world in 2019 lived in Asia, and Africa has seen a 24% increase in overweight children since 2000, according to the WHO.
“Overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight. Globally more people are obese than underweight – this occurs in every region except parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.”
Previously, the soft drinks industry has realized its connection to obesity issues, and countries have taken actions to reduce consumption through different strategies, such as tax increases on certain products.
“Sugar reduction has shifted from an emerging trend in the food and beverage category to becoming mainstream,” Coralie Garcia-Perrin, global marketing director for Sweet Taste, Kerry, previously told FoodIngredientsFirst.
Possibility for change
Yet, there is still a chance for the food industry to turn around. According to the study, there has already been an improvement in the food industry, but drinks still have high levels of sugar and calories and a high presence in the cafe and restaurant sector.
The research mentioned a “relatively untapped market for younger, health-conscious consumers, particularly in relation to drinks.” Additionally, it is one step in the direction to offer proactive support for Australia’s National Obesity Strategy, presented earlier this year, aiming to reduce obesity and overweight by 5% by 2030.
The strategy presents data from 2018 showing that 12.5 million, equivalent to 67% of the adult population in Australia, are above normal weight. If no action is taken, 18 million people in Australia are expected to be obese or overweight by 2030.
By Beatrice Wihlander
This feature is provided by FoodIngredientsFirst’s sister website, NutritionInsight.
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