On Wednesday, October 18, the James Beard Foundation released findings from its first-ever research study conducted to better understand American consumers’ motivations and thought processes behind their food choices, beliefs, and behaviors.

Coordinated by Karen Karp & Partners along with Radius Global Market Research and the Good Housekeeping Institute, the research project focused on consumer food motivations from the last three years. The findings will be presented in further detail at the JBF 2017 Food Summit, which takes place October 23-24 in New York City.

Some of the key findings from the report:

  • 70% of Americans have changed the way they eat to improve health and wellness in the past three years.
  • Consumers who have done the least to improve what they eat are people 45 and older (48%).
  • 81% of people under 45 have changed their eating habits over the last three years.
  • Two-thirds of people care most about taste, and health and wellness, came in a close second (62%).
  • Half of Americans say the number-one influence on what they eat is food companies (retailers 48%; advertising 46%). The refrain “just like Mom used to make,” or tradition, comes in third place at 41%.
  • 70% of Americans who have made changes are now eating healthier foods. A sizable majority do want to know where their food comes from (77%), what its environmental impact is (76%), understand the ingredients in their foods (90%), see truthful nutritional information (90%), and have GMO ingredients labeled as such (80%).

“The findings provided an additional level of understanding of the complexity of people’s relationship to food that we will be exploring live on October 23 and 24,” says Karen Karp, the co-producer and co-designer of the JBF Food Summit for the past nine years.

“This particular survey revealed that diets are changing, people are more health-minded and experimental with their food habits and purchases, yet they still crave convenience. These results generate rich insights that help us create meaningful content for our readers and partners,” says Laurie Jennings, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute.


In other news from the James Beard Foundation, the organization is now accepting nominations for its 2018 Awards, among those the Outstanding Baker and Outstanding Pastry Chef Awards. The deadline for Restaurant and Chef  Awards submissions is December 1, 2017. The James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception will be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 7, 2018.