Brits could be at risk of serious illnesses as new research has revealed that 78% of consumers do not understand the daily recommended levels of salt, fat and sugar consumption.

The nationwide health survey by Spoon Guru,  a leader in AI technology, revealed that just 22% of shoppers think they can confidently decipher the value of nutrients in food – with an opportunity for retailers to offer new tools to improve transparency.

The study¹, which looked into the spending habits of UK consumers and motivations for purchasing decisions over the past year, highlighted that 46% of shoppers would like retailers to do more to encourage healthy eating. This includes 54% of Brits wanting retailers to produce clearer food labels on packaging and shelves; 34% would like taste tests to help discover healthy foods; 33% want healthy recipes; and 15% would like further education through the use of in-store nutritionists, cooking courses or apps.

Better health is definitely on the minds of consumers, with a third of Brits (34%) afraid of developing serious health-related illnesses and 1 in 10 (14%) respondents admitting they fear an early death due to an unhealthy diet. As a result, 67% of those surveyed stated they have tried to improve their health and wellbeing in the last 12 months – however, the study suggests they may be failing.

Looking into reasons why Brits are failing to eat healthier, the research found that 33% of UK consumers are now using sugar substitutes. These include honey and maple syrup (17%), Stevia (11%), as well as Agave Nectar and Coconut Sugar (11%) – with Brits still consuming high levels of sugar and calories. Additionally, 39% of shoppers who say that they are making healthier choices, are still adding sugar to their hot drinks.

Also, (28%) revealed they struggle to eat healthy dinners. Admittedly, 38% of respondents stated that Friday evenings are reserved for satisfying their appetites with foods they enjoy, followed by Tuesday and then Wednesday as the unhealthiest days of the week.

In a bid to boost wellness, 53% of consumers who have altered their diets in the last year revealed the cost of their weekly grocery shop had increased by up to £25 more each week. Interestingly, the cost associated with eating healthy proved to be the biggest barrier for 36% of those surveyed, with 58% of respondents claiming they would purchase healthier food if retailers lowered costs.

To encourage healthy eating, UK consumers want  retailers to provide: 

  • Lower costs on healthy options – 58%
  • More promotions of healthy products – 50%
  • Better placement of healthy foods in-store – 29% 
  • Suggestions on healthy food swaps – 27% 
  • Healthy snacks by the checkout – 24%

Markus Stripf, co-founder and CEO of Spoon Guru, commented: “Brits are trying to adopt healthier diets, however, there is a need for further clarity around nutrition. In particular, how to manage fat, salt, and sugar intake to prevent health-related illnesses. What is also clear from the research is that consumers are open to exploring the ways technology can assist in food discovery.”

“The good news is that retailers have already become early adopters of innovative technology to help customers.” Stripf continued: “Spoon Guru is proactively partnering with retailers in the UK and throughout the world to enhance the customer experience and give complete transparency on labelling, so consumers can search and discover suitable foods safely, and ultimately achieve their goals with much more ease.”