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Bye-bye Processed Foods?


As part of the Upsiide 2019 Food Trends study, we examined minimization of negatives (ingredients perceived as unhealthy). Our goal was to find out which negatives are being minimized in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and how the popularity of minimizing certain negatives varies across genders and generations.

What did we find?

Processed products are the most minimized negatives in North America

In both Canada and the United States, “Processed foods/drinks” scores the highest as a negative to minimize. In the UK, it comes in third after “Sugar” and “Saturated fat”. This mirrors previous research in which North America was found to be the leader in minimizing consumption of processed products compared to the rest of the world; and Europe was found to focus more on minimizing sugar and fat. These differences likely stem from the rising popularity of fat in North America, and the emphasis of American dietary guidelines on turning away from processed products and opting for their healthier, less processed versions. In response to this trend, many consumer packaged goods companies have been eliminating negative ingredients from their products; introducing “better for you” product lines; and acquiring health food start-ups.

Women are more likely to minimize negatives than men

Across all three countries, women are more likely to minimize negatives than men. The gaps are widest in the UK and Canada, where women are 5% more likely than men to minimize negatives. The largest gap was found for “Processed foods/drinks”. In Canada, 64% of women like it as a negative to minimize compared with only 45% of men. This can be attributed to women being more likely to diet and to choose healthy foods compared with men.

Millennials are more likely to minimize allergens and “trendy” negatives

Millennials are more likely to minimize negatives associated with allergies or “free from” diets, such as dairy, soy, lactose and gluten. This trend is led by American Millennials. On the other hand, Gen Xers and Boomers are more likely to minimize “traditional” negatives, such as cholesterol, fats, sugar, salt and artificial ingredients. Previous research has found that Millennials are more likely to report that their food and beverage choices are driven by dietary sensitivities and restrictions; however, they attribute this to personal preference rather than medical necessity. This phenomenon could be explained by Millennials’ increasing interest in health on the one hand, and the increased availability of health information on the other hand.


Interested in viewing the full results and analysis?

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