However, low fat claims are on the rise for own-label products, up from 5.9% in 2010, and the proportion of new own-label foods carrying healthy claims like low, no or reduced fat, slimming, calorie and sugar reached a five-year high in the UK in 2014, Mintel said.
The market research organisation said the healthiness of food was a top priority for UK consumers, with 63% saying they considered health when choosing foods at the supermarket. Taste was the top concern, considered important by 89% of consumers, but health outranked low cost, which was important for 59%.
“These results illustrate the widespread appeal of these health claims and their influence over shoppers’ choice of product,” said Mintel senior food analyst Emma Clifford. “Despite retailers focusing more attention on these claims in their new product development in 2014, there still appears to be a significant gap between the high demand for products which are low in fat, sugar and calories and the level of new product development activity.”
Market share for slimming claims was also up last year compared to 2010, from 1.3% to 4% of new own-label launches, while low, no, or reduced calorie claims rose from 1% to 1.8%.
Clifford suggested the rise in ‘better for you’ NPD could be to do with supermarkets’ pledges under the government’s Responsibility Deal, as well as an effort to boost their reputation as socially responsible.
Brands lead the way for sugar reduction
Branded products still held the advantage for the 51% of consumers looking for low sugar foods, Mintel said, pointing out that only 1.6% of new own-brand products featured a low, no, or reduced sugar claim last year, compared to 6.6% of branded launches.
“The low level of activity from own-label is despite the dangers attached to consuming too much sugar rarely being out of the media spotlight in 2014. The high-profile debate put this issue firmly on people’s radars and the time is ripe for innovation centring on low, no, or reduced sugar,” she said.
As for the specific claims consumers seek, 59% of UK consumers said they looked for products that contribute to their 5-a-day, 53% said they looked for low saturated fat, 51% sought low sugar content, 45% said they looked for low calorie content and 43% looked for high protein products, Mintel said.