Many consumers are struggling to put enough food on the table.
Consumer research platform Attest published its "Facing Up To Food Insecurity" report today, which surveyed 2,000 consumers in what was designed to be a nationally representative sample across a variety of demographics.
“Food prices remain stubbornly high, and our latest data shows nearly 59.5% of Americans are currently experiencing some level of difficulty affording food. It’s a stark statistic, which means [food and beverage] brands and retailers must continue to adapt to real consumer needs imposed by macroeconomic conditions,” Attest Founder and CEO Jeremy King said in a statement.
According to the survey, 40.5% of Americans report no difficulty affording food, while a plurality of consumers report either some difficulty (34%) or “a lot” of difficulty (9.1%) affording food. Add in the number of people who report their level of difficulty varies from week to week (16.4%) and it becomes clear that nearly six out of every ten consumers (59.5%) struggle with food insecurity at least part of the time.
The report also looked at consumer behavior and trends. For example, more Americans than you might think cook the majority of their meals at home -- and like it. Around 14.6% of respondents reported that they don’t like cooking, with only 3% admitting they “hate cooking,” while over 85% of respondents either said they “love” (42.9%) or “don’t mind” (42.6%) it.
While it’s possible people exaggerate how much they actually enjoy cooking when self-reporting, that so many view it neutrally or positively could be informative for food brands that position themselves as a welcome break from the drudgery of the kitchen. Additionally, over a third of consumers (34%) report eating meals they cooked from scratch most days, with an additional 30% reporting doing so three to five days a week.
Consumers are also mindful of what kind of food they're buying: 21.4% claim to always check nutrition values, with an additional 28.3% saying they “often” do, and 25.7% reporting doing so “somewhat often.” The study found similar results when asking about ingredients lists.
There’s also an interesting look at where people find recipes, with a substantial number of consumers (36%) reporting cooking from recipes found on websites and apps, and more than one in four finding recipes on social media platforms (28%) -- compared to just over one in ten (11%) who still turn to cookbooks.
Another telling aspect of the research looked into what appliances consumers have in their kitchens. With the rise in popularity of air fryers in recent years, a majority of respondents (57.9%) reported owning one. That’s more than reported having a slow cooker (54.6%) or cooktop (54.1%) -- helpful information for brands looking to entice customers into purchase by sharing recipes online.
“It’s likely that the outlook will remain challenging for months to come, with the certainty that food and beverage consumption is in a state of transition and the possibility that some of these new consumer behaviors will become permanent,” King added. “ As ever, understanding what’s happening in the minds of consumers is the key to understanding how to win in a rapidly evolving market.”