Market research in food shopping

Researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, and the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) have analysed socio-demographic and attitudinal determinants of nutrition knowledge of food shoppers from six European countries: UK, Sweden, France, Germany, Poland, and Hungary. Main findings include social grade, country of residence and age to directly influence participants and nutrition knowledge. Furthermore, older people, women and respondents of a higher socio-economic status showed a more active interest in healthy eating.

In a total of six European countries, respondents were recruited in major supermarkets in three regions of each country. Food shoppers were directly interviewed about the product choices they made at the point of purchase and invited to complete a questionnaire at home, which measured nutrition knowledge and understanding of nutrition labels. In total there over 11,000 in-store interviews and close to 6,000 completed questionnaires.

Social grade, country, and age seem to directly influence nutrition knowledge. Attitude towards healthy eating and use of expert sources had a small effect on nutrition knowledge. Older people, women, and those of higher social grades had a higher active interest in healthy eating which was lowest for people with high Body Mass Index (BMI) and who had children at home. In contrast the extent to which people actively ignore nutrition issues was highest for men and lower social grades. Expert sources of nutrition were used most by women, higher social grades, and people with higher BMIs but used least by older people. Though people with high BMIs reported using expert recommendations, they did not necessarily choose healthy foods.

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