Approximately 50 percent of U.S. consumers consider at least one sustainability factor in selecting consumer packaged goods (CPG) items and choosing where to shop for those products, according to a recently released survey conducted by Information Resources, Inc.(IRI)

The 22,000 U.S. consumers surveyed were asked to determine the impact of four key sustainability features in their product and store selection—organic, eco-friendly products, eco-friendly packaging and fair treatment of employees and suppliers.  One-fifth of those surveyed were determined to be “sustainability driven,” taking at least two sustainability factors into account when making their selections.

“Sustainability has evolved from a niche segment concern to a major factor influencing purchasing and shopping behavior across a sizable consumer base,” says IRI Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Salzman. “Our survey indicates that consumers are focused more and more on the social and environmental impact of their CPG purchases, creating a viable and growing U.S. market for sustainable products and packaging with the potential to mirror well-developed markets in Europe and Japan. U.S. retailers and manufacturers are beginning to respond to that demand.”

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Are consumer choices (and wallets) finally driving the market toward healthier food choices? Based on recent research studies, it looks like there are some good (and a few not so good) trends on the horizon for the year ahead.

Junk-free foods: Mintel Global New Products Database predicts companies will be more aggressive in removing additives, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and “otherwise unknown ingredients” from products to make junk-free claims. YES!

Naturally nutrient-rich: Even though sales of pumped-up foods and beverages have been soaring, a backlash against heavy fortification may be brewing. Lynn Dornblaser, a new-products analyst for Mintel, predicts that people will be seeking more natural sources of nutrients. This desire for authentic nutrition is what drove the popularity of pomegranates and the acai berry this year. YES!

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