"The decline in consumers' concern for quality from our 2008 survey is due, in part, by their need to become more aware and engaged in choosing the products they buy," said Pat Conroy, Deloitte's vice chairman and U.S. consumer products practice leader. "Consumers view food safety and quality as important issues, and are looking to manufacturers, food companies and government regulatory bodies to drive communication, as well as tackle food quality and safety issues."
In fact, three out of four (75 percent) Americans surveyed feel that the manufacturers/food companies are responsible for communicating product recall information, followed closely by government organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration (73 percent), with less expectations from retailers (53 percent) and the media (51 percent).
When making food purchases, Americans are doing more hands-on research and reviewing labels carefully, another indication that they are becoming more engaged in the process behind the foods they buy. Half (51 percent) of Americans say the new country-of-origin labels help in determining which fresh meat, fish, fruit or vegetables to purchase, and 45 percent say they would like to find out the country-of-origin on a Web site for all ingredients in a packaged/bottled food product. This may become of increasing importance to consumers, since the survey found that more than half (53 percent) of consumers frequently or always read the list of ingredients on an unfamiliar packaged or bottled food item; up from 50 percent in 2008.
However, although more Americans are reading ingredients, only four out of 10 (45 percent) surveyed say they understand at least 75 percent of the ingredients on a packaged food item, up slightly from 2008 (33 percent). Furthermore, 55 percent surveyed understand half or less of the ingredients, which is in line with responses from Deloitte's 2008 survey (59 percent).
A strong interest in nutrition has caused consumers to reference the "Nutritional Facts" box on packaged/bottled foods when making a purchase. More than half (54 percent) of Americans surveyed frequently or always read the "Nutritional Facts" box on an unfamiliar packaged or bottled food item and 26 percent occasionally, as compared to 15 percent rarely and five percent who never read it.
The top five nutritional facts that consumers report reading are: calories (71 percent), total fat (63 percent), sugars (50 percent), sodium (45 percent) and serving size (39 percent). Four out of 10 (42 percent) consumers surveyed frequently or always purchase packaged/bottled foods influenced by health-related claims, such as "low carb," "low sodium" and "heart healthy."
"Over the past two years, we have seen a significant shift in how consumers view the foods they purchase," said Conroy. "Though our survey still shows health and safety as the top two concerns facing Americans, the percentages have dropped and consumers are using their increased knowledge of food products to raise concerns around over-processed foods. Food companies are now dealing with an engaged consumer who actively seeks to understand the products they are looking to buy. This survey should be yet another red flag for the industry, as it shows that consumers are determined to be smarter about the foods they put on their table."
For a copy of Deloitte's 2010 Food Safety Survey, visit www.deloitte.com/us/foodsafety.
Boar's Head on target for salt reduction initiativeBoar's Head Provisions Co. Inc. has pledged its commitment to the New York City Department of Health's National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), by meeting the recommended 2012 target levels for sodium in deli cold cuts and cheeses. This makes Boar's Head the nation's first deli meat and cheese manufacturer to have both signed on to the initiative and met its 2012 goal.
"Reaching these target levels in advance of the proposed NSRI deadline reflects the commitment Boar's Head made to this Initiative early in January 2010, when New York City Mayor Bloomberg contacted our company about the NSRI targets for packaged and restaurant foods," says, Michael Martella, President of Boar's Head. "Boar's Head continuously maintains a leadership role in upholding the health and wellness status of its products."
The National Salt Reduction Initiative, a New York City-led partnership of 18 national health organizations and 29 city and state health authorities and their associations, has set targets to guide a voluntary reduction of sodium levels with the objective of reducing the amount of salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25% over five years - an achievement that would reduce the nation's salt intake by 20% and prevent many thousands of premature deaths.
The sodium levels in certain categories of Boar's Head products are dramatically lower than the NSRI recommended levels for 2012 and have been for the past 25 years, the company states. Boar's Head products are not meant to have a long shelf life, and therefore less salt is used as a preservative.
"When we were approached by the New York City Department of Health to become a part of their Salt Reduction Initiative, we didn't hesitate," says Boar's Head Director of Communications, RuthAnn LaMore. "The Initiative fits with our longstanding commitment to producing healthy, high quality and great tasting foods. We are thrilled to be the first deli company in America to both sign on and meet the target."
Through a year of technical consultation with food industry leaders, the National Salt Reduction Initiative developed specific targets to help companies reduce the salt levels in 61 categories of packaged food and 25 classes of restaurant food. For many food companies, reaching these levels by 2012 and the lower ones mandated by 2014 will be a challenge, which may be impossible to meet in some cases.
Source: Boar's Head Provisions Co. Inc.