IFIC survey again finds people seek whole grains, fiber

Not surprisingly, the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 10th anniversary food and health survey contained good news for grain-based foods manufacturers. Whole grains and fiber again ranked as the top nutritional items that Americans want to consume. This year’s survey titled “What’s Your Health Worth?” also found an increasing desire to consume calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and potassium.

When asked what they were trying to get a certain amount of or as much as possible, 56% of the survey respondents said whole grains and 55% said fiber. Last year the percentage was 53% for both whole grains and fiber. Protein, at 54% this year, again came in third.

The percentages for the items ranked No. 4 through No. 6 in 2015 all rose. Calcium increased to 43% from 36% in 2014. Omega-3 fatty acids rose to 27%, up from 21%, and potassium increased to 26%, up from 19%.

The survey also asked people what they were trying to limit or avoid entirely. Three items came in above 50%: sugars in general (55%), added sugars (54%) and sodium/salt (53%).

The survey found 78% of consumers either “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” with the statement “I would rather hear what I should eat than what I should not eat.”

People apparently are hearing they should consume more olive oil and sunflower oil. When asked to rate the healthfulness of types of oil, 79% said olive oil was either “extremely healthful” or “somewhat healthful,” which was up from 74% six years ago. The percentage of people saying sunflower oil was either “extremely healthful” of “somewhat healthful” rose to 56% from 49% six years ago. For the first time the IFIC survey asked about fish oil, which found 75% saying it was either “extremely healthful” or “somewhat healthful,” and coconut oil, which found 58% saying it was either “extremely healthful” or “somewhat healthful.”

Greenwald & Associates conducted the 2015 survey, which took place on-line from March 13-26 and covered 1,007 Americans of the ages 18 to 80.