Departments - Industry News

April 9, 2013

Survey Reveals Facts of Parent Food Purchasing Decisions

Parents with children under 18 are very focused on the nutrition and health needs of their offspring but are less likely to think about the healthfulness of the foods they choose for themselves or believe in the health benefits of regular exercise, according to results from the International Food Information Council Foundation’s (IFIC) 2012 Food & Health Survey.

“In some ways, parents have significantly different beliefs and priorities than non-parents and these differences are important in terms of designing effective messaging to better equip them to achieve a more healthful lifestyle,” said Marianne Smith Edge, senior vice president, Nutrition and Food Safety, IFIC Foundation.

The survey results were consistent with 2010 research conducted by the Dietary Guidelines Alliance, of which IFIC is a founding member. That research found that a lack of understanding exists among parents about the role that calorie balance plays in maintaining a healthy weight.

The IFIC Foundation’s 2010 Food & Health Survey included 1,057 participants, of which 29% were adults ages 18-49 with children younger than 18. The survey revealed that:

  • 16% of parents think they have a very or extremely healthful diet.
  • nearly 70% say they worry more about the healthfulness of the foods and beverages they buy for their children than those they buy for themselves.
  • 87% believe that it is good for their health to sit down and eat meals with their family.

Food Safety and Quality.
On most questions about health and diet, parents hold very similar views as non-parents in that same age range and to the overall population. There are significant differences in several noteworthy areas, including the following:

  • Parents are more likely than non-parents to say that concerns about foodborne illnesses (54% vs. 43%) or the safety of imported foods (49% vs. 38%) have impacted the foods they purchase.  On the other hand, they show no difference in their concern over chemicals in food, pesticides, animal antibiotics, or undeclared allergens.  
  • Although both groups hold similar views about the importance of taste, price, convenience, and sustainability in food-buying decisions, parents (54%) are less likely than non-parents (63%) to say that healthfulness has a strong impact on their decisions about what to buy.
  • While parents and non-parents are just as likely to buy foods that are advertised as local or organic, come in recyclable packaging, generate donations to charitable causes, or rate high in term of sustainability, parents are more likely than non-parents (40% vs. 32%) to buy food with the word “natural” on the label on a regular basis. 
  • Parents are less likely than non-parents to look at several aspects of packaging when deciding what foods to buy, including expiration dates (67% vs. 77%), the Nutrition Facts panel (59% vs. 68%), ingredients lists (41% vs. 51%) and cooking instructions/preparation time (38% vs. 47%). 

Tesco CEO Launches Global “Food-Fortress”

Tesco Chief Executive Philip Clarke launched a new Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS), at Queen’s University, to improve global food safety through the establishment of an international “food-fortress” in Belfast.

Queen’s invested over 33M pounds (almost $50M) for the Institute to play a key role in national and global efforts to provide the world’s growing population with a sustainable, safe, and secure supply of high quality food. Institute staff will work with the food sector locally and worldwide to improve the integrity of the food chain and deliver best value and quality to the consumer.   

Tesco is the largest customer for food producers on the island of Ireland. At the launch Clarke spoke on “Competing in a Changing Global Food Supply Chain” and met with representatives from leading food companies in a roundtable discussion.

The Institute houses a new £2.5M ($3.8M) laboratory. With state-of-the-art equipment provided by Waters Corporation, the multinational technology company, it will be capable of undertaking unique forms of testing to provide early warning of food contamination and adulteration. With part financing from the European Regional Development Fund, Invest NI is supporting the laboratory instrumentation and some of the research activities within it.

The Queen’s Institute of Agri-Food and Land Use was the UK’s first, opening in 2006. Since then it has been working with the local agri-food sector in Northern Ireland and around the world to ensure the agri-food and land use sectors maintain a competitive edge to meet the challenges posed by European enlargement and the global marketplace. The Institute provides a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs in an interactive and creative learning environment and conducts environmental, food safety, and nutritional research of local, national, and international impact. This work will now be further enhanced with the opening of the Institute for Global Food Security.

Readers Respond: Outsmarting Birds

Correction. The article “Outsmarting Birds” (January/February 2013) referenced a new “birth control” product for birds and stated it as being a restricted use pesticide. However, the product, OvoControl P (80224-1) manufactured by Innolytics is actually a general use/unrestricted pesticide in all states except New York. 

Letter to the Editor. Your article [“Outsmarting Birds”] could have been improved by stating whereas pigeons and house sparrows have little protection except by anti-cruelty laws, the Federal Migratory Bird Protection Act will protect Canada geese and swallows. I have seen mud nests under building eaves made by swallows, and eggs destroyed by building owners and have reported them to Fish and Game. The best alternative would be to put up screens before the birds arrive (in March) to make them nest elsewhere. The other federal law is the Endangered Species Act, it is highly unlikely that any endangered species would be urban pests.

Raymond Schep, Colonial Dames Co.