57% of UK consumers think companies should be taxed heavily if producing or promoting unhealthy choices, NielsenIQ shows

Fifty seven per cent of UK consumers believe that companies should be taxed heavily if they are producing or promoting unhealthy choices, as 60% of UK households also say it is important to buy sustainably produced grocery products to help save the environment, reveals new data from NielsenIQ.

NielsenIQ reveals that54% of UK consumers pay attention to labelling/food nutritional values when grocery shopping, with sugar (45%), fat (41%) and salt (31%) content having the biggest impact on purchase decisions.

However, data from NielsenIQ shows that shoppers in the UK face a challenge of doing good for their personal health and planet while managing the rise in food and living expenses as a result of the current inflation in the country. 

Sustainable intentions not always reflected in consumer behaviour

The three most important concerns about grocery products for UK shoppers are reducing food waste (45%), buying local/British (36%) and minimal/no packaging (26%). However, although consumers expressed a will to switch to sustainable product packaging, shopping behaviour did not always reflect this willingness. 

Recent data from NielsenIQ from the week ending 4th June 2022 shows that value sales for bagged salad rose +2.7% versus the same period the previous year, while total salad declined by -4.8%. This is also the case for prepared fruit (+15.6%), compared with total fruit (-3.9%).

Balancing budgets with the desire for less meat consumption 

Consumer attitudes towards reducing meat consumption is also one of the symbols of the broader ‘better for the planet, better for the people’ consciousness. In a NielsenIQ survey conducted in November 2021, 2.7 million households in the UK have a vegan or vegetarian, while 10.5 million households, at least once a week, are replacing meat based meals with vegan or vegetarian alternatives. 40% stated it was better for their health and 31% stated it was better for the planet. 

However, a challenge for shoppers is combining this desire for less meat consumption with managing budgets. NielsenIQ data shows that meat alternative mince is 26% more expensive per kg than beef mince. With this in mind, an average basket spend for meat costs £40.99, rising to £43.60 with meat alternatives. 

Katrina Bishop, UK thought leadership activation manager at NielsenIQ, said: “With 49% of households focussing on value for money when buying new food and drink products, UK shoppers find themselves in a bit of a fix as they struggle to balance tight budgets with their health and sustainability values. We may see a slight shift in priorities from shoppers as they seek to find alternative ways to balance this, for example, cutting back on grocery spending and on meat may result in cooking with fresh vegetables rather than seeking out meat alternatives.”