Healthy eating trend boost for vegetarian, free-from and organic food producers

IRI survey of shoppers across Europe finds more than two thirds are buying healthy food
German shoppers most likely to buy organic food (versus half of Europeans) 39% of shoppers buying vegetarian food options
‘Free-from’ food on the shopping menu of one third of shoppers

Bracknell, UK – 2 October 2017 – Two thirds (70%) of shoppers across Europe are buying healthy food – with less salt, sugar, fat or calories. This was a key finding of a survey of European shoppers by IRI, the big data and technology expert for consumer industries. A large proportion of shoppers are also buying organic, vegetarian and ‘free-from’ food, suggesting that people are paying more attention to their health.

The survey, which was conducted among shoppers in seven European countries, found that more than half of shoppers buy organic food, an increase of 35% in the last three years and 39% buy vegetarian food options (an increase of 26% in the last three years). People buying ‘free-from’ food options has also grown, with 33% of shoppers in the region buying lactose free, yeast free or gluten free products.

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. One third of shoppers surveyed want to buy additive free food 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 across Europe, it is encouraging to see that one in four shoppers (26%) 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 more healthy by eating ‘free-from’ food items 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 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. Follow IRI on Twitter.

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

Anne Lefranc, European Marketing Director at IRI
Tel : +33 1 30 06 23 62

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