There’s a sea change in consumer attitudes toward fats and health. Fifty-three percent—up significantly from 45% in 2010—believe the most effective strategy for improving overall health is to follow a moderate fat diet that includes “good” fats, e.g., polyunsaturated (PUFAs) and monounsaturated (MUFAs) fatty acids vs. an overall low-fat diet, which focuses on reducing all fat intake (cited by only 9%), according to the United Soybean Board’s (USB) “2011 Consumer Attitudes about Nutrition” survey.
According to the Hartman Group’s 2010 “Reimagining Health & Nutrition,” 66% of Boomers, 58% of Gen Xers and 40% of Gen Yers are increasing the amount of olive oil in their diet; 59%, 53% and 43% respectively omega 3s; 52%, 48% and 32% fish oil; and 31%, 32% and 22% flaxseed oil. One-quarter of consumers actively seek out vegetable oils; one-third of very health conscious shoppers.
Although the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) “2011 Shopping for Health Survey” reports that MUFAs and PUFAs—that have been on labels for years—still confuse about half of shoppers, it’s another story when it comes to heart health.
Three-quarters (74%) of consumers are aware of MUFAs and 85% omega 3’s (PUFAs) role in reducing the risk of heart disease per the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) “2011 Functional Foods Consumer Trends Survey.”
MUFAs have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and stroke. MUFAs may also benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, especially in Type 2 diabetics. They also contribute vitamin E to the diet.
According to Sloan Trend’s TrendSense model, MUFAs and PUFAs are accelerating Level 1 mass markets. While PUFAs have clearly benefited from their association with omega 3s—which is an enormous Level 2 mass market on par with vitamin D—the timing is ideal for creating and capitalizing on a new and virtually untapped wellness opportunity based on MUFAs’ role in health.
While Medical Counts are growing more slowing for MUFAs than PUFAs, they have been accelerating over the past few years and are at a level that will support a strong and stable market for the foreseeable future.