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Clean Eaters Fear Being Duped by Big Food, CFI Research Shows

We’ve all seen those unfamiliar words on food labels – sodium benzoate, lecithin, methionine and the like. No matter what their purpose or origin, fear around these foreign words and questions about their impact on health is one reason more consumers are diligent about eliminating artificial ingredients and processed foods from their diets.

New research from The Center for Food Integrity shows “clean eaters” fear being duped by “big food” and are motivated to do everything in their power to control their health.

Out are boxed meals, pre-packaged meats and chips. In are preparing meals from fresh ingredients and products free from added preservatives as they do everything in their power to enhance health and wellness in hopes of living long, healthy lives.

Clean Eaters and Control

There currently are more than 36.1 million U.S. consumers, just shy of 1 in 5, actively engaged on the topic of packaged food and chemical additives, as shown by CFI’s Illuminate™ digital research tool that can analyze millions of interactions online in real time. This segment of the population is expected to grow slightly, 5.3 percent, over the next two years.

These consumers are deeply motivated to have total control over their consumption, and not have corporations, governments, brands or friends take that control away, according to the research.

They are particularly leery of big corporations ‘tricking’ them into buying unhealthy products. This finding speaks to the ‘big is bad’ bias that we see in our research year after year. Consumers believe “big food” will put profit over public interest every time.

This is a group that is progressive, seeks a higher meaning in life and is motivated to tell others about their food choices, so it’s an important group to engage.

Influencers and Independence

The core market is white, middle-class individuals between the ages of 25 and 44. The segment predominantly includes couples, either with or without children. They range in education level: high school education (25 percent), technical degree (34 percent) and college education (29 percent). Only 12 percent have an advanced college degree.

They do feel that if traditional food products are modernized through better sourcing, manufacturing and distribution, they can be made to taste better while offering better health outcomes.

When it comes to information, they tend to seek content on wellness, health, and lifestyle and nutrition habits from bloggers who focus on cooking naturally, without chemicals, preservatives and man-made additives.

This is a highly independent group that doesn’t want to give in to societal pressure.

We see the food industry evolving to meet the demands of the clean eater. They key is to engage with this group and demonstrate how your company aligns with their values for healthy eating and safe food.

Empower Your Engagement

Illuminate™ Digital Cultural Insights is an evolution of consumer research that can empower a new world of consumer engagement. CFI members receive in-depth Illuminate reports throughout the year that include detailed research results on important topics and guidance on how to best apply the findings.  We also offer customized research reports. Illuminate is more precise, effective and affordable than traditional research campaigns.

If you’re interested in learning more, I’d be happy to connect.

Terry Fleck 
Executive Director, CFI