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Originally published February 11 2008

Most Consumers of Snacks Unwilling to Give Up Taste for Enhanced Nutrition

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Even among those who are seeking healthier snack options, taste is still a more important factor than nutrition in selecting a product, according to a survey conducted by Datamonitor.

Datamonitor surveyed consumers in the United States and Europe, with 1,000 of the respondents in the United States. Among U.S. respondents, 24.4 percent said they had become "much more" likely to seek healthy snack foods over the prior 12 months, and 36.7 percent said that they had become "slightly more" likely. Eighty percent of respondents in both survey regions, however, said that the flavor of healthy food products still needed to be improved.

In its report on the study, Datamonitor concluded that taste is still a more significant deciding factor than health in impulse snack food selection. According to Datamonitor, consumers expect snacks to be unhealthy and are willing to ignore those characteristics when searching for an indulgence or escape from their daily stresses. A side effect of this is that consumers also tend to be skeptical of health claims made by producers of snack products.

The report noted an increasing trend toward health claims among sweet and savory snack food products, and that those are no longer limited to "negative" claims (such as the absence of fat, trans fats or sugars) but also include claims of specific health benefits or specific healthy ingredients, such as antioxidants.

Datamonitor suggested that producers could vastly increase sales by improving the taste of their healthy snack options. "Although healthy products remain a small percentage of overall indulgent snack releases, the indication is that a growing number of consumers wish to snack indulgently, but in a 'guilt-free' manner," the report said.

Consumer health advocate Mike Adams, author of The Seven Laws of Nutrition, said, "This study shows that most consumers still think of food as entertainment rather than nourishment."

In a related study conducted by Mintel, sales of salty snacks were found to have declined by 4 percent since 2002, primarily due to competition from healthy, non-salty snack foods.

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