It's official: shoppers want to eat more healthily and they want to be able to buy healthy products in their local c-store. That's according to a major consumer survey undertaken by BMRB, and commissioned by Convenience Store.
The survey of 487 shoppers reveals that a majority 76% of consumers try to eat healthily, and a further 20% sometimes eat healthy foods. The over-65s are the healthiest eaters with 88% saying they try to eat healthily, closely followed by the 55- to 64-year-old age group at 82%. The 16-24s have the largest proportion of occasional healthy eaters at 41%, compared to 29% of 25-34s, and at the other end of the scale, only 7% of over 65s occasionally eat healthily.
Consumers in Scotland - where the Scottish Executive has been promoting healthy eating in a major way (see feature on p51) - and the East Midlands are the biggest healthy eaters with 85% of respondents in those regions claiming to eat healthily, compared to 56% of Welsh consumers, although 42% in Wales sometimes try to eat healthily.
Of those respondents that do not or only sometimes eat healthily, 31% of men and 34% of women say the reason for this is because they don't have time to prepare healthy foods. Surprisingly, 17% of women, compared to just 10% of men, say healthy food doesn't taste as nice as other food. And 14% of men and 11% of women say healthy food is too expensive, while 7% of women claim they don't eat it more often because their local shop doesn't stock healthy options.
The majority of working C2 and DE social groups (42% and 35%) claim not having enough time to prepare it as the reason for not eating healthily more often, compared to 29% of ABs, and 25% of C1s. Those in the East Midlands, the North and in London appear to have the least amount of time to prepare food with 58%, 47%, and 49% respectively citing time constraints as their reason for not eating healthily. In the North West, 14% say it's because their local shop doesn't stock healthy foods, while 26% in this region and 29% in the South East say healthy food is too expensive.
The survey reveals that c-store retailers are clearly missing a trick as the majority of consumers - a whopping 85% - buy their healthy products in supermarkets, with just 6% shopping in local shops.
While still predominantly shopping for healthy foods in a supermarket, the 55-64-year-olds and over-65 age groups shop a bit more often in their local c-store - 11% of the time and 9% respectively. And those in the North and North West buy the least in their local shop with just 2% shopping those outlets. Meanwhile, consumers in the South West (11%) and East Midlands (13%) buy more healthy foods in markets than shoppers in other regions.
While shoppers currently purchase very few healthy foods in c-stores, 58% would like to buy healthy products in their local shop if it sold them. Londoners and consumers in Yorkshire/Humberside and Scotland are the most likely to purchase healthy foods in their local shop - 53%, 97%, and 86% respectively.
And those c-stores that do sell healthy foods can expect to attract healthy eaters to their shops as often as every day (8%). More than a third (35%) of shoppers say they would like to buy healthy foods in their local shop once a week, and a further 30%, twice a week.
Consumers in East Anglia and Yorkshire/Humberside are the most likely to shop more frequently, with 40% and 29% respectively saying they would like to buy healthy foods in their local shop every other day, compared to just 3% and 6% in London and the South East.
Not surprisingly, fresh fruit and vegetables are most likely to pull in the punters, with 93% of consumers wanting to buy fresh produce in their local shop. And in the South West and East Anglia, an undisputed 100% of shoppers want to buy fruit and veg in c-stores.
Healthy snacks such as dried fruit and cereal bars, and low-fat or low-calorie versions of big-name brands are also favourites with 58% and 57% respectively wanting to purchase those types of products. Functional foods - products with ingredients such as omega 3 or added vitamins - are also popular with the 16-24 and 35-44 age groups with 58% and 55% of shoppers in these demographics
wanting to purchase functional foods
in their local store.

Where do you buy most of your healthy foods?

Supermarket 85%
local shop 6%
market 4%
farm shop 3%
health food shop 1%
none of these 1%

Which foods would you like to buy in your local shop?

fruit and vegetables 93%
healthy snacks 58%
low fat/low calorie 57%
functional foods 47%
Slimming products 15%
none of these 3%
don't know 1%

How likely would you be to buy healthy foods in a local shop?

very likely 28%
Quite likely 30%
Neither likely 9%
or unlikely
quite unlikely 15%
very unlikely 18%

How often would you like to buy healthy foods in your local shop?

every day 8%
every other day 11%
twice a week 30%
once a week 35%
less frequently 8%
never 7%
dont know 1%