Netherlands-headquartered Sensus conducted an online survey with 800 UK consumers aged 18-75 years to investigate opinions on health and baked goods.
Findings showed just under one-third (30%) of consumers said they were ‘very interested’ in white bread just as high in fiber as wholemeal bread, provided there was no compromise on taste.
“And more than one out of four indicate that they would very likely buy the product when available,” Sensus said.
The largest interest came from white bread consumers, it said, and 68% would pay more for a white bread that contained the same amount of fiber as a wholemeal product.
“That said, doubt about the taste is the main reason consumers would select regular bread over the white bread high in fiber,” the company said.
The inulin specialist said there was a raft of “widely held misperceptions” about consumers among industry – from thinking consumers bought cakes and cookies to indulge and were uninterested in healthier variants to the idea they were unwilling to pay more for healthy products.
However, Sensus said: “The research debunked all these misperceptions and concluded that consumers are ready for healthier – but still tasty – products. In fact, they’re willing to pay more for it.”
Findings showed just over half (51%) of consumers were willing to ‘pay a little extra for food that is more healthy’. The same amount of consumers said they monitored their fat intake and 54% said they monitored sugar intake.
For example, with reduced-calorie cakes, 28% of consumers showed significant interest. More than one in five indicated they would buy the product when available and would be prepared to pay up to 55 pence (89 cents) extra per 150 g of cake.
However, Sensus said: “The two main reasons consumers would choose regular cake over low fat, high in fiber, is that they have no need for cake low in fat, or have doubts about the taste.”
Touting inulin for health
Sensus presented survey members with a definition of inulin – a naturally sourced extract from chicory root used in areas of fiber enhancement, sugar reduction and fat reduction – and said two out of three consumers were interested in the ingredient.
“Interest is highest among younger people [under 35 years], with no significant differences between men and women. While men and women indicate similar interest in the different health benefits of inulin – including fiber enhancement, sugar reduction and fat reduction – females are significantly more interested in fat reduction than males,” it said.
Fat reduction held the highest appeal, with 37% claiming this was a ‘very interesting’ health benefit. This was closely followed by sugar reduction (36%) and then fiber enhancement (30%).
Consumers were also willing to pay up to 25% extra for bakery products containing the ingredient, Sensus said.
However, when presented with bread, cookies and cake products containing inulin, Sensus said “one of the biggest barriers to selling those products high in fiber is consumer misapprehension about taste”.
It was therefore critical to zero in on the most interested consumers, the company said. Survey findings suggested this was a consumer group that was “young, fairly well educated, employed and have children in their households”, it said.