A study by Eat Well Global has surveyed 8,000 people in 13 countries to identify perceptions around healthcare professionals, health and nutrition, and food choices
Illustration of Eat Well Global’s Consumer Voice report

There’s no such thing as a global consumer, so when it comes to determining where to invest time and resources to enter or expand in a marketplace, a customised approach is recommended. The report ‘Consumer Voice: Global insights on food, nutrition, trust and influence’ by communications consultancy Eat Well Global delivers insights for such a customised approach.

Eat Well Global has surveyed more than 8,000 consumers in 13 different countries selected to provide a broad geographic representation and represented important markets to trade in – the US, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, France, the UK, Germany, South Africa, the UAE, Russia, China, India, and Indonesia.

Eat Well Global works closely with healthcare professionals and focuses on identifying and engaging with current and emerging influencer groups and key opinion leaders, which is why its team embarked upon a journey to understand consumer perceptions in food and nutrition, their purchasing decisions, and their interactions with healthcare professionals.

The survey was designed to identify the relationship between consumers in the selected countries and their access to nutrition and healthy eating, including which sources they find to be the most credible and influential. The survey also studied current perceptions of foods and how these perceptions relate to sustainability.

Julie Meyer, co-chief executive, Eat Well Global

Snapshot with a global footprint

Erin Boyd Kappelhof, co-chief executive of Eat Well Global

The survey was administered in the local language and the report uses aggregated data – it really is a snapshot of some of the global trends in food and nutrition from different consumer groups.

“We wanted to understand more about consumer perceptions and interactions with healthcare professionals,” says Julie Meyer, co-chief executive of Eat Well Global. “We did this research to be able to help organisations understand who those global agents of change are in food and nutrition, and empowered them with great communications.”

Meyer explained that the survey asked questions around access to information on nutrition and healthy eating, about credible and influential information sources, about perceptions on different foods and food groups related to nutrition as well as sustainability or environmental impact.

The report is structured around three central themes – healthcare professionals, health and nutrition, and food choices. The survey had nearly 30 questions in total, all around these topics, including open-ended questions that provided an even deeper understanding of the consumers in different parts of the world.

For example, the graphic below, which is included in the report, shows high contrast in the pressing challenges facing the different industries. Environmental concerns about animal products are polarising consumers, while plant-based products lack nutritional superiority.

Q: Please rate how the production of foods impact the environment
Q: Please rate the foods on their nutritional value

The open-ended questions asked about nutrition and ingredient attributes that people consider when they purchase food and beverage; the sourced people turn to for information about nutrition and healthy eating, the most credible sources, and asked people to describe a sustainable diet.

Top 10 insights: Consumer perceptions on food and nutrition

‘Consumer Voice: Global insights on food, nutrition, trust and influence’ is a 55-page report available to download from Eat Well Global website.

The report is structured around three themes: the healthcare professionals that consumers turn to and trust; the health and nutrition topics and information consumers are seeking; and the consumer perceptions impacting food choices.

Some of the key findings around healthcare professionals are:

  • Dietitians and nutritionists play a critical role for consumers around the world. They are the most trusted and the most frequently consulted health professionals for information on nutrition and healthy eating.
  • Dietitians and nutritionists have the highest impact on food purchasing decisions. 77% of surveyed consumers declare that their advice impacts which foods to buy.
  • General practitioners and medical specialists such as gastroenterologists or endocrinologists are the second and third of the world’s most credible sources of nutrition information.
  • Besides healthcare professionals, the internet, social media and packaging are key sources of nutrition information for consumers.

Some of the key findings around health and nutrition are:

  • General healthy eating is the most researched nutrition topic in 2020. More than half of all consumers around the world actively researched this topic in the last year.
  • Weight management is the second most researched topic with 44% of respondents having searched for information in the last year.
  • Plant-based foods are perceived to have the highest nutritional value for consumers around the world, with the top-three most nutritious foods being fruits, vegetables and nut/seeds. The notable exception is Russia, where red meat, eggs and fish are perceived as more nutritious.

Some of the key findings around food choices are:

  • When purchasing food, sugar content is the most important nutrition decision factor for consumers in nine out of the 13 surveyed countries.
  • Consumers believe that red meat/pork, poultry and dairy have the highest environmental impact. On the contrary, foods credited for the lowest environmental impact are legumes, nuts/seeds and fruit juice.
  • Other topics that consumers are actively searching for information on include immunity, sports nutrition, beauty/skin health and sleep.

The report concludes that consumers trust healthcare professionals and raises questions about the best way to establish impactful relationships between them and food and beverage companies.

“Healthcare professionals are the experts and agents of change in food and nutrition. Should companies engage with them for support? Absolutely, but let them use their own voice,” says Erin Boyd Kappelhof, co-chief executive of Eat Well Global. “Helping health professionals meet the same goals that you have in terms of food and nutrition is the best way to get them on your side,” she concludes.

Building on the findings of the consumer voice report, Eat Well Global will work on a new report dissecting the different perceptions on the sustainability of foods.

Date published: 14 April 2021

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