More people buying vegetarian, free-from and organic food as healthy eating trend gathers pace

IRI survey finds half of British shoppers buy organic and a third buy free-from food

Bracknell, UK – 2 October 2017 – People are paying more attending to their health as the healthy eating trend gathers pace according to a survey of European shoppers by IRI, the big data and technology expert for consumer industries. More than two thirds (72%) of shoppers in the UK are buying healthy food – with less salt, sugar, fat or calories.

The survey, which was conducted among shoppers in seven European countries, found that 43% of British shoppers buy organic food. This is a third more than did three years ago. Further, more than one in four people said they are happy to spend more buying organic food, more than any other healthy food option.

More shoppers are buying vegetarian food options - an increase of 26% in the last three years – but fewer are willing to spend more for this choice.

People buying ‘free-from’ food options has also grown, with one third of shoppers in the region buying lactose free, yeast free or gluten free products. 19% said they would spend more in the next six months.

With more awareness about the role that food plays in general health and wellness, alongside some high profile incidents that raise questions about the safety of the food chain, more people are paying attention to the quality of the food that they eat.

Just one in five British shoppers want to ensure they buy additive free food, less than the 33% of Europeans that claim this. And one in three shoppers read the ingredient lists and nutritional fact labels on food items before they purchase.

“Concern for general wellness is the biggest reason that Europeans are buying healthier food options,” said Livio Martucci, Director at IRI and analyst of the shopping survey. “They are more concerned with the quality, safety and healthiness of the food that they buy, have an intolerance to certain foods or just want to lose weight. With obesity becoming a key challenge for health in the UK, it is encouraging to see that one in four shoppers (25%) want to achieve weight loss.

It is likely that more people are eating ‘free-from’ products than are actively diagnosed as being intolerant,” added Martucci. “They think they are being healthier by eating ‘free-from’ food items and are prepared to spend more money in doing so.”

IRI believes that there is a huge opportunity for food manufacturers to highlight the health benefits of their products or introduce new, healthier, lines.

Martucci adds: “Healthy eating alongside organic, free-from and vegetarian food is no longer a niche market to be profiled at the back end of a supermarket aisle. There is a huge opportunity here for manufacturers to innovate and for retailers to give more shelf space to healthier food options, including own label ranges. Ultimately, a focus on health could bring people back into stores and stop shoppers drifting into bio in my experience “bio” is more of a European term for organic – in the UK would “specialist” be a better choice stores and street markets for their healthy food choices.”

Notes for editors:

About the survey
IRI interviewed 2,600 shoppers in Italy, Greece, Spain, Germany, France, the UK and Holland about their attitudes and purchasing behavior of wellness foods. The survey also asked shoppers how the digital experience is changing grocery shopping and the multichannel shopping experience. The full survey can be found online at

About IRI
IRI is a leading provider of big data, predictive analytics and forward-looking insights that help CPG, OTC health care, retailers and media companies to grow. With the largest repository of purchase, media, social, causal and loyalty data, all integrated on an on-demand cloud-based technology platform, IRI guides over 5,000 clients globally in their quests to remain relentlessly relevant, capture market share, connect with consumers and deliver growth. www.IRIworldwide.comFollow IRI on Twitter.

For further information please contact:
Teresa Horscroft
Eureka Communications
Tel: +44 (0)1420 564346; Mob: +44 (0)7990 520390

Vera Malhotra, UK Marketing Director at IRI
Tel : +44 (0)1344 746213

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