How important are natural foodstuffs for European consumers, and which expectations are associated with naturalness? These and further questions are answered by Kampffmeyer Food Innovation’s recent consumer study, conducted by market research company e-Research24.de within eight European countries. The results show that naturalness is a decisive buying incentive and that most consumers are willing to pay more for products with a clean label. Almost three-quarters of respondents perceive a close connection between “natural” and “healthy.” The study also shows that both ingredients and manufacturing processes are perceived as natural if they are familiar to consumers as part of their everyday lives.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents want foods that are free from chemical additives. These expectations are not just limited to retail, but also apply to the catering market: More than 80 percent look for natural products in bakeries, restaurants and canteens.
The study found that 72 percent of consumers accept higher prices for naturally produced foodstuffs without additives. This is especially true for children’s products: 17 percent would pay a surcharge of about one third for baby food. Overall, every third consumer would be willing to pay 10 percent more for widely consumed products, such as baked goods, pasta sauces and convenience meals.
Perceptions of naturalness
One of Kampffmeyer Food Innovation’s aims with this study was to gain an insight into what consumers associate with naturalness in terms of both ingredients and manufacturing processes. Apparently, consumers classify ingredients as natural if they know them from their own kitchens. Thus, products perceived to be natural include wheat flour, yeast, cream and sugar.
Findings are quite similar when it comes to processing methods, with cooking, baking and milling top of the list of naturally assessed manufacturing processes. In general, it is apparent that consumers’ familiarity with the processes and end products from their own households plays an important role in terms of naturalness. This is reflected in perceptions of the drying process: 70 percent of respondents perceive the drying of pasta as natural. However, using the same process to turn cream or milk into powder is thought to be unnatural.
Benefits of natural foods
Seventy-four percent of respondents are convinced that natural or naturally produced foodstuffs are healthier. Sixty percent associate them with higher quality—an important aspect when it comes to the buying decision, since for 96 per cent of consumers, good quality is the most important characteristic of a foodstuff.
“This study draws a clear picture of the changing dietary habits and nutrition-consciousness of consumers across Europe”, says Michael Gusko, managing director of Kampffmeyer Food Innovation GmbH. “It’s a very positive sign for food manufacturers that consumers appreciate quality and are thus willing to pay more for high grade natural foods. And because the study allows us to detect regional-specific attitudes, we can advise our customers on marketing in different regions even more specifically now.“
Kampffmeyer Food Innovation GmbH sponsors the Clean Labelling module (8b) within the HiE conference programme. As part of this module, the company is on location with a booth, providing copies of the “How to make Clean Label” report. The publication contains all of the study results, as well as further information on Clean Labelling in terms of regulatory issues, marketing activities and NPD. Additionally, Kampffmeyer Food Innovation employees will be on hand during conference breaks to answer questions. Customers from industry can also request the report by post (enquiries to [email protected]). From December onward, the study will be available to download from the company’s website (kampffmeyer.com) as well as from cleanlabelpeople.com.