Food price is mightier than nutrition when it comes to swaying shoppers, according to a new study out of Dartmouth College.
According to Valley News, healthy eating doesn’t have as much impact on food decision as price.
“Prices, what we see in the marketplace, affects our shopping much more than we realize,” said Kusum Ailawadi, a marketing professor at the Tuck School of Business, who led the study. “Even with all good intentions, with our concern for nutrition, when we see something that’s too expensive and we can’t afford it, we don’t buy it. When we see something on sale, we buy it, even though it may not be very good for us.
Ailawadi and her team of researchers took the study beyond consumer eating habits. Instead, they looked at shopping patterns over several years.
They found that even those who exercised regularly and avoided fast food bought less junk, they consumed more of the food they believed to be healthy, including yogurt and cereal. This resulted in a higher overall caloric and sugar intake.
Diabetics also showed an interesting trend. After being diagnosed, sugar consumption fell immediately but fat and sodium intake increased.
Ailawadi found that in the end, price influences everyone. Read more here.
Some companies, such as Wal-Mart, have made an effort to help make it easier for shoppers to make quick decisions on the health benefits of products, regardless of the price. Ice cream makers took a different approach in 2011 by passing a little of raising food and production costs to consumers.