What Today’s Grocery Shopper Wants

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on February 23, 2017 · 0 comments

Food shoppers’ attitudes are changing when it comes to deciding which foods are healthy choices for themselves and their families and which foods represent their values. This wide variation in needs and acceptability is an enormous challenge for food companies and supermarkets.

As many as three-quarters of all food shoppers make buying decisions based on avoidance choices. Free-from foods are what consumers want. But, the term means different things to different consumers. There are four types of food shoppers that have ingredient concerns.

  1. Shoppers who make medically driven purchases – gluten-free, allergen free, lactose free.
  2. Shoppers who want foods that meet their life choices – vegetarian, vegan, kosher.
  3. Shoppers who want their foods to be absent of negatives – Non-GMO Verified, No Antibiotics Ever, Cage-Free, Grass Fed, no artificial sweeteners, no preservatives, no artificial colors
  4. Shoppers looking for more traditional free-from labels – fat free, no sodium, no sugar added.

What you purchase and what you eat is a visible way to demonstrate your values and lifestyle. Today’s consumer wants the brands they buy to:

  • Share their values about sustainability and social consciousness
  • Offer transparency and traceability about what is in the food and where ingredients came from, right down to the farmer who grew the crops
  • Provide clean foods with fewer ingredients and simpler food labels that they can read and understand
  • Have third party verifications – Certified Organic, Certified Gluten Free, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Vegan, certified kosher, certified halal
  • Donate some of their profits to demonstrate the company is doing good by supporting a cause or advocating for free trade.


Brands and supermarkets that don’t evolve to address the modern food shoppers’ needs may be left behind.

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