More than 50% of UK adults intend to eat more vegetables over the next 12 months as the trend towards healthy eating gathers pace, according to new research.

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The MCA & HIM UK Healthier Eating Report 2019 found that 39% of consumers rate healthier eating as highly important to them, with more than one-third eating more healthily than a year ago.

Refined sugar is the main ingredient that consumers are actively trying to reduce in order to be healthier, the report revealed.

In addition to half of consumers looking to consume more vegetables, 10% aim to switch to a vegetarian diet and 6% to a vegan diet in the next 12 months.

Gareth Nash, consumer insight director at MCA Insight & HIM, said the healthy food ‘mega trend’ was a huge opportunity for retailers to capitalise on, while more plant-based products were expected to gain prominence this year.

“The mega trend towards health continues to gather speed, presenting a huge opportunity for retailers to tap in to. Supermarkets are leading the way for grocery retail and providing consumers the solutions to eat healthily easily at home,” he said.

“With a smaller range it is more challenging for c-store retailers, however satisfaction stems from meeting the needs of consumers. Convenience retailers need to make their space work harder and place greater attention on the individual needs of their shoppers.

“Our report highlights high consumer demand for an expanded range and more promotional activity around healthier options. Vegan and vegetarian diets are becoming even more common place, so we expect to see more plant-based products to take centre stage in 2019.”

The insight, from MCA and HIM’s exclusive UK Healthier Eating Report 2019, was conducted through over 2,300 bespoke online consumer surveys, data from MCA’s eating out panel that consists of 72,000 annual consumer surveys, and extracts from HIM’s Healthy Snacking Report 2018 and MCA’s Operator Data Index.

For more information and to find out how you can access the MCA & HIM UK Healthier Eating Report 2019, get in touch with MCA here.