By Larry Wilson
VP, Customer Relations
National Confectioners Association
Despite good intentions, many shoppers struggle with balancing the challenges of the ever-present crunch for time, financial pressures and ensuring they eat a balanced and healthy diet. The food industry is making tremendous strides in helping consumers with this three-way challenge by leveraging their influence in both education and the execution of healthy eating. This includes educating consumers on how to integrate indulgence categories like candy into a healthy diet and lifestyle.
The National Confectioners Association (NCA) recent research conducted by 210 Analytics shows a number of positive signs that the industry’s efforts are catching on. For one, shoppers are taking responsibility for healthful eating — the first step to better choices. No less than 93.2 percent of survey respondents believe that they themselves are primarily responsibile for ensuring they eat a healthy and balanced diet. But while consumers feel they have the chief responsibility, NCA points out that the confectionery industry is providing a helping hand through education on how to include moderate confectionery consumption in a healthy lifestyle, offering a wide variety of package and product sizes, such as snack size, fun size and calorie-controlled packages, commitments to responsible advertising and marketing, and front-of-pack calorie information Additionally, the offering of healthier-for-you options is on the rise and consumers are taking to them. Three in 10 now consume dark chocolate more often than they did five years ago. Likewise, 21 percent more frequently snack on confections with added nutrients or healthy ingredients and 31 percent consume more healthy snacks in general.
The survey noted the importance of moderation as the chief healthy eating strategy. Consumers are clearly starting to realize that denial and deprivation are not the answer. According to the NCA research, more than two-thirds of Americans classify themselves as “moderate consumers of candy”— enjoying it as a treat three times a week. The average person eats less than 50 calories from candy daily, accounting for 2 to 3 percent of calories in an adult’s diet. This underscores the role of confections in health and wellness. On a scale of 1 10 10, where 10 is “completely agree,” the statement “chocolate can very much be part of a healthy diet” received an average of 6.6 — the highest score of all statements. This enjoy-in-moderation message is echoed by leading health advocates, including Michelle Obama in her “Let’s Move” campaign. Ninety percent of dietitians believe confections in moderation can be part of a healthy diet according to a recent industry study.
The notion of moderation is clearer when looking at the top choices in healthy eating strategies involving candy. When asking shoppers for their most likely tactic relative to chocolate, 57.2 percent would opt to moderate, be it through managing frequency of consumption, eating smaller portions or switching to portion-control options. Swapping to “something else chocolate,” such as dark chocolate or healthier-for-you options is the second most likely strategy at 25.8 percent. Only 6.4 percent would be willing to give up chocolate altogether in an effort to improve their diets, much less than the 10.6 percent of shoppers who say they are not willing to moderate, change or give it up. The numbers for candy are similar.
Learn more about NCA’s TreatRight program. For more information, contact Jenn Ellek at firstname.lastname@example.org