Posted on August 11, 2011 at 9:58 AM by Iowa Corn
Here is a press release from the Corn Refiners Association about how consumers are not avoiding non-HFCS labels.
New Top-of-Mind Research from Mintel Shows Consumers Aren’t Avoiding or Reading Labels for HFCS
Separate Study Shows Food & Beverage Marketers Overestimating Consumer Opposition to HFCS
Most consumers look to avoid total added sugars, not high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) specifically, according to a recent study designed and executed by Mintel Research Consultancy.
In the study, more than 2,000 consumers were asked a series of questions about their dietary habits. By asking participants unaided (or open-ended) questions, the survey helped determine what was “top of mind” for consumers with regard to sweeteners.
Specifically, the study found that 17 percent of consumers were trying to avoid “sugar or added sugar,” as opposed to only 4 percent who indicated that they were looking to avoid HFCS. In the same question, 37 percent of consumers indicated that they were avoiding calories, while 20 percent were avoiding fats and oils.
“This study of thousands of consumers truly shows what is ‘top of mind’ when reading food and beverage package labels. It’s very telling that only 4 percent of consumers are avoiding HFCS,” said David Lockwood, senior analyst, Mintel Research Consultancy. “Mintel identified a major gap between what people say and what they really do. The answers to these unaided responses are the best indicators of true attitudes and behaviors.”
Additionally, in reading package labels for information, a quarter of respondents indicated that they were looking for “sugar or added sugar.” By contrast, only 3 percent indicated that they were reading labels for HFCS. In the same question, 38 percent of consumers read labels for fats and oils, while 37 percent read for calories.
“Consumers are independently confirming that HFCS is not a top of mind issue. In fact, one in four consumers is not focused on ingredients at all,” said Audrae Erickson, president, Corn Refiners Association.
Food & Beverage Marketers Overestimating Impact
The Mintel consumer research underscores that many food and beverage marketers are overestimating consumer opposition to HFCS. According to a separate study conducted by Equation Research for AdweekMedia, 63 percent of food and beverage marketers indicated they were either “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about consumer attitudes towards HFCS.
The Equation Research study found that more than half (54 percent) of food and beverage marketers believe that more than 10 percent of consumers have already changed their purchase habits to avoid HFCS. In addition, 64 percent of marketers indicated that more than 10 percent of consumers would need to change their purchasing habits before manufacturers would reformulate their products. Interestingly, some food and beverage companies have changed to HFCS-free formulations even while the actual level of consumer concern about HFCS is less than one-third of the 10% threshold identified by marketers.
Further, many food and beverage marketers did not understand the science of sweeteners; specifically, that HFCS and sugar are nutritionally, metabolically and calorically equivalent*. The Equation Research study found that: