Nearly half of consumers (48%) are finding in-store shopping to be more stressful than last year, up from 40% in 2021. And concern about rising food prices is the main cause of that stress, according to 53% of consumers in Deloitte’s annual report “Fresh Food as Medicine for the Heartburn of High Prices.”
But, with all of the stress of shopping due to inflation, many consumers are still focusing on their health and wellness. And to that end, they're purchasing more fresh food that promotes a healthier lifestyle.
Health still matters, according to the Deloitte report. Of the consumers that were surveyed, 55% said they are still willing to pay a premium for food that contributes to their health and wellness. And 84% said they consider the health and wellness benefits of fresh food when they purchase; 80% believe fresh food is healthier for them than packaged or processed food that is marketed as healthy.
“Amid increasing competition, fresh food producers and retailers have the opportunity to introduce consumers to healthy choices and use food as medicine. Grocers who can close the information gap between fresh food and its health outcomes can be better positioned to win over consumers—and compete on aspects other than price,” said Daniel Edsall, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP.
Seventy-nine percent of consumers believe that the right food can improve health and wellness by boosting mental or physical performance, 78% said the right food offers preventive benefits, 76% said there are therapeutic benefits from the right food and 75% said that the right food is the best medicine.
When grocery shopping, 56% of consumers said they trust their grocer to provide information regarding the safety, origin and nutritional properties of fresh foods, and 48% said they would use a digital shopping app or website to receive personal fresh food recommendations from the grocer.
“We recognize that grocers and other stakeholders have an important role to play in supporting the health and wellness of their communities by helping to ensure their customers benefit from the connection between healthy foods and good health,” said Bhatt.
A little more than half of consumers (52%) who buy fresh food for its health benefits do so to feel good and 45% do so for overall energy. Many consumers (43%) look for benefits like weight management, and managing existing medical conditions (32%), while 39% of consumers think fresh foods can prevent diseases and preserve their health. Three in four consumers said they seek more personalized nutrition, up 13 percentage points from a year ago.
“Using food as medicine is one of the ways consumers can be empowered to take control of their health. However, not every household has equal access to or can afford to pay higher prices for fresh, healthy foods which is a factor that contributes to health inequities and poorer health outcomes,” said Jay Bhatt, D.O., MPH, MPA, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions and the Deloitte Health Equity Institute.
Notably though, while consumers have expressed a desire to use food as medicine, 62% feel that there is conflicting information and confusion about the “healthfulness” of specific foods. Four in 10 consumers do not clearly understand which fresh foods can act like medicine, and a little over half of consumers (52%) say it is essential to get data about food origins, safety and nutritional properties to use food as medicine confidently
Deloitte provides audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to nearly 90% of the Fortune 500 and more than 7,000 private companies. They have been providing their services for more than 175 years in more than 150 countries and territories. The “Fresh Food as Medicine for the Heartburn of High Prices” report is based on a survey of 2,054 adults (aged 18 to 70), conducted in July.