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Consumers vote for nutrition over calories: what are the implications?

By Katya Baxter, Nutritionist,

In last week’s foodservice market research report, the NPD group found that ‘food quality, such as fresh, natural, and nutritious ingredients, rank above fewer calories’ in consumer preference.  It also found ‘a significant share of foodservice traffic is driven by healthy eating behaviors and a key motivation for healthy eating is feeling healthier’.

This is a very important finding for several reasons.

  1. It marks a shift in our perception of what healthy food is, and what it can do for us.  No longer is healthy eating just about losing weight, and healthy food about low calories and low fat.  We are shifting our focus to our health, which is far more important, and away from calorie counting.
  2. It reinforces the value of real food.  We are becoming more aware that truly healthy food is food that comes directly from nature and that it is healthy by default.
  3. It encourages local growers and farmers.  People are voting for local, seasonal, fresh and minimally processed food. Hopefully, this lays a path for future legislative changes.
  4. It makes a clear statement about what healthy eating is all about.  And, ironically, it doesn’t necessarily match the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

What more and more Americans want is real food.  We are the fattest nation in the world, and we are also malnourished! Counting calories without paying attention to where these calories come from is a recipe for failure. We must continue to shift our focus onto the sources of the quality of food we consume so that we can re-learn how to eat and stop harming ourselves, and our planet.

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