‘Natural’ foods equal ‘healthy’ in older consumers’ minds, Canadean

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 15th September 2014
‘Natural’ foods equal ‘healthy’ in older consumers' minds, Canadean
‘Natural’ foods equal ‘healthy’ in older consumers’ minds, Canadean

Consumers in the UK who are aged 55 and older associate ‘natural’ products with a healthy, yet tasty, lifestyle and diet, according to new findings from market research organisation Canadean.

The survey of 2000 UK consumers found that 38 per cent of those aged 55 and older are looking for ‘natural’ food choices. According to Canadean, this is due to older consumers growing more mindful of their health and well-being: 60 per cent of those who look for natural foods also describe themselves as seeking healthier food options.

“Older consumers often see ‘natural’ as a byword for ‘organic’, ‘healthy’, ‘fresh’ and ‘wholesome’,” said Catherine O’Connor, analyst at Canadean. “However, there are no regulatory criteria when it comes to the term ‘natural’, which leaves manufacturers more open to put the label ‘natural’ on their product,” she said.

Consumers confused about ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ overlap

By contrast, products which claim to be ‘organic’ have to be produced using organic methods of farming which promote ecological balance, conserve biodiversity and do not allow for synthetic pesticides or additives. Similarly, in order to claim to be ‘healthy’, a product has to contain a reduced amount of ‘bad’ ingredients, such as using natural sweeteners in place of sugar or by reducing saturated fat content.

“When we asked consumers about their dietary habits, we purposely avoided defining the term ‘natural’, meaning that the respondents were defining it for themselves,” Ms O’Connor said. “The resulting overlap in the use of the terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ proves that many consumers are confused about the exact meaning of those labels,” she said.

Older consumers looking for quality

According to Canadean data, the desire for ‘natural’ foods also results from older consumers’ search for quality.

“Products marketed as ‘natural’ are currently more successful among older consumers than products featuring more explicit health claims,” Ms O’Connor said. “This is because older consumers think that ‘natural’ products are made with care and craftsmanship, whereas they fear that foods marketed around health alone may involve a sacrifice in taste that they are not eager to make,” she said.