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Organic food luring weight conscious consumers big time

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In keeping with the focus on consuming healthy foods, Indian consumers are shopping for food items that promote health benefits. According to an online survey conducted by research agency Nielsen, slightly more than half of urban Indian consumers claim to regularly shop for whole grain, high fibre products and purchase iodine enhanced cooking salt, followed by buying cholesterol reducing oils (37 per cent) and fruit juices with added supplements.

The survey was conducted online in March/April 2011 and in August/September 2011.

The survey points out to a growing preference for fresh and organic foods amongst 60 per cent of respondents who are who are changing their diet to lose weight, while over half of them are reducing their consumption of processed foods and a nearly half proportion intend to reduce the amount of food to they consume.

Having said that yoghurts, soy milk and drinks containing ‘good’ bacteria appeal to only over a tenth of consumers surveyed. “The shift towards more natural, fresh foods highlights the need for food manufacturers and retailers to recognise that a more aware, health-conscious shopper is looking at processed food and its impact on their health more closely. In such a scenario, products with natural ingredients that promote authentic health benefits are more likely to stand out and be included in the regular purchase cycle” said Adrian Terron, Executive Director, Retailer & Shopper, Nielsen India..

Amongst Indian consumers who are looking to lose weight and are making dietary shifts to gain the benefit, 77 per cent of them are cutting down their intake of fatty foods. About 67 per cent of them have reduced intake of chocolates and sugar. This is lower than in 2008, when over eighty percent of those making dietary changes were consuming less fatty foods, and over seventy percent were consuming less sugar. On opting for a healthier option, given a choice between products with sugar content, but without artificial substitutes versus products, which might have reduced calories with artificial substitutes, 40 per cent of respondents respond that neither option is healthy.

However, 79 per cent of this set of consumers which is looking to control weight finds an exercise regimen the most preferred option to gain results. Only 65 per cent of the consumers who find themselves overweight find making dietary changes to food habits as the most preferred option.

A preference of an exercise regimen over making dietary changes, in India, according to Terron, is in contrast to the developed world where dietary changes are preferred – indicating an opportunity for food manufacturers and retailers to be a solution-provider to the weight-conscious Indian shopper. “This trend has already been a source of innovation for some marketers but we feel the demand within this market hasn’t been fully tapped yet.” said Terron.

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Neeta Nair

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