Yogurt consumption has more than doubled over the past decade, from 13 annual eatings per capita in 2001 to 30 in 2011. “Certainly it is something to keep watching and monitoring,” Seifer said. However, compared to other snack categories, it is still small. People eat salty items three times more often than they do yogurt, and even though people drink less milk than they used to, they still consume more than four times as much milk as yogurt.

The fast growth of yogurt consumption raises the question, Why are people choosing yogurt? NPD data show that the number one reason people choose yogurt is because it is nutritious and has a health benefit (15 percent). This is different from most food items, Seifer noted. Usually taste is the top reason for choosing a food. In the case of yogurt, however, taste is the second reason (13 percent), followed by “was hungry” (10 percent), “healthy start to day” (8 percent), “favorite snack” (6 percent), “simple and easy to eat” (6 percent), “routine or habit” (5 percent), “better than other choices” (5 percent), “hold me over until next meal” (4 percent), and “low in fat or calories” (3 percent).

The Nutrition Facts Panel: What Are Consumers Looking For?

When people look at a Nutrition Facts Panel, what are they looking for? NPD data indicate that consumers are looking mostly for total calories (49 percent), followed by sugars (43 percent), total fat (43 percent), sodium (41 percent), calories from fat (34 percent), total carbohydrates (33 percent), serving size (33 percent), saturated fat (33 percent), servings per container (28 percent), cholesterol (28 percent), and dietary fiber (25 percent). Seifer remarked that even though calories are the number one thing that people look for, studies indicate that only about 10 percent of people know how many calories they should be consuming on a daily basis.

More people are looking for sugar content than in the past (43 percent in 2010 compared to 39 percent in 2004). Seifer characterized the growing interest in sugar as a remnant of the “Atkins and low-carb craze” and a function of the aging population with more health concerns to manage, including diabetes. People are also looking for fiber content more often than in the past (25 percent in 2010 compared to 22 percent in 2004), a trend that Seifer suggested may also be related to our aging population and the fact that dietary fiber is something that older adults are concerned about. Another trend is the growing interest in sodium (41 percent in 2010 compared to 34 percent in 2004), again probably because of changing demographics and greater concern about sodium among older adults. Again, as with calories, even though people are expressing more interest

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