How Do Consumer Food Preferences Vary around the World?
By Linda Winick
The expectations and behaviors of consumers around the world vary in terms of food and food innovations. These differences are outlined in Food 360, an international reference study from the Market Intelligence department of Kantar TNS, one of world’s largest researchers with experts in over 80 countries.
Since 2012, the Food 360 study has been exploring, taking stock and revealing consumer profiles across the world: eating behaviors, attitudes and perception of food, health and innovation.
Kantar announced the results of the study in October at SIAL, the global food exhibition held in Paris every two years.
“Today we are witnessing a real groundswell driven by the new consumer demands [in terms of] taste, true and meaning,” said Kantar officials. “This actually reveals the power that consumers have taken over their food.”
Taste is on the comeback trail, according to Kantar. Taste has always been one of the first criteria in the choice and re-purchase of a food product. But today, consumers are more stringent, elaborate and qualitative. More than ever, pleasure is associated with food, high-quality products and the discovery of new tastes/flavors/textures.
Kantar says “true food” refers to food that is more authentic, more natural, healthier, but also safer food. Consumers are becoming more and more careful about what they eat. The “true” requirement for transparency prompts consumers to favor products that provide them with signs of reinsurance such as naturalness, organic products and quality labels.
The quest for “meaning” is critical, according to the study. In a world of digitalization and globalization, consumers want to restore meaning to their food, thus asserting their free will and individuality.
The research involved interviewing 500 people aged 18 and above online in each country in March and April 2018. Here are the highlights of the study results in the ten countries/regions researched:
France: Nine of ten consumers want more transparency regarding food products. They also think it’s important to buy food products that are more respectful of animals’ well being (91 percent), have less packaging or overwrapping (86 percent) and have biodegradable packaging (81 percent).
Poland: Nearly seven of ten consumers are paying more attention when choosing high-quality food products. Like the French, nine of ten Poles want more transparency regarding food products in terms of ingredients and their origins.
Germany: Enjoying food is cited by three of four German consumers who believe in varying meals (59 percent) and eating a balanced diet (54 percent). But the foods they consume should have less packaging or overwrapping (83 percent).
United Kingdom: Only half (50 percent) of consumers are paying more attention to choosing high quality food products. However, two of three (65 percent) cite eating balanced meals and six of ten (60 percent) want to eat quality food.
Russia: Nearly every Russian consumers (96 percent) wants more transparency regarding food products. Two of three (65 percent) are paying more attending to choosing high quality food products, while about the same number (67 percent) find it’s important to reduce food waste.
Spain: Three of four consumers (74 percent) are paying more attention to choosing high quality food products. Eating healthy and eating a balanced diet is favored by seven of ten survey respondents.
Southeast Asia: Virtually every consumer (99 percent) is looking for more transparency regarding food products. Nine of ten (88 percent) want to buy food products with biodegradable packaging, while more than nine of ten (94 percent) find it’s important to reduce food waste.
China: Nine of ten consumers (92 percent) ways it’s important to reduce food waste, while nearly everyone (98 percent) desires more transparency in food products. Only half of those polled (50 percent) consider eating well to be eating gourmet food, while about the same number (52 percent) say eating a balanced meal is “eating well.”
Middle East: While nine of ten consumers (92 percent) want more transparency in food products, only half (52 percent) is interested in seeing the origin of ingredients. Meanwhile, more than eight of ten poll respondents (84 percent) says it’s important to reduce food waste.
United States: Surprisingly, only six of ten consumers (59 percent) are paying more attention to choosing high quality food products. Reducing food waste, however, was rated important by nearly nine of ten consumers (85 percent).