Cargill’s FATitudes survey indicates attitudes toward fats and oils are changing

3 Jun 2020

Twenty years ago fat was bad. Today, however, there are just bad fats. According to Cargill’s annual FATitudes survey, 68% of consumers are closely monitoring the amount and type of fat that is in their packaged food choices.

Of those who are monitoring their fat intake, the amount of fat is important to 70% of consumers while the type of oil is an important factor to 67% when determining which packaged foods to purchase. Although an important consideration for consumers, not everyone is monitoring the fat content of products equally. The survey found that the frequency with which consumers read labels varies by county. Chinese consumers paying the most attention with 89% reading labels and German consumers give the least attention with less than half (48%) monitoring labels.

Cargill’s FATitudes survey indicates attitudes toward fats and oils are changing

Still, even consumers that don’t scour labels are cognizant of the different health benefits associated with various fats and are sensitive to the appearance of these names on labels. Olive oil continues to top the list of oils that consumers seek out for healthfulness in every country that was included in the survey. Fish and avocado oil ranked second and third in terms of perceived health benefits.

This year, there were 6,600 households in 12 countries surveyed, including the United States, Germany, China, Brazil, India, Russia and the United Kingdom.

Although consumers have an opinion about which fats are healthy, they do not seem to know why certain fats are healthy while others are not. Cargill found that in the U.S., consumers were not aware of the levels of health associated with mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. Only 20% and 19% respectively understood the qualities of these fats. At the same time, 83% of these U.S. consumers avoid saturated and trans fats.

Although they may vary from country to country, consumer attitudes are shifting across the globe. But even with geographical differences between perception, Allison Webster, Director of Research and Nutrition Communications for International Food Information Council (IFIC) said in a statement that this sort of research is important because “These global perspectives shed light on important differences between countries and provide critical insights into how people around the world think about two all-important questions: ‘What should I eat, and why?’”

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