Messaging Science through Food Marketing

Grocery stores provide a wide variety of food choices. There are a multitude of brands, flavors, and types of food packaging. Along with these factors, consumers area also looking for healthful options. So what sells the best and how can messaging science through food marketing promote sales.

Factors Impacting Food Choices

According to USDA’s Economic Resources Services (ERS) food stores sold $717 billion of retail food and nonfood products in 2019. Of this amount, grocery stores accounted for 92.1%. 1 How people choose which foods to purchase is determined by several factors. According to most consumer purchasing behavior research there are three main factors that drive food purchases. 2

The first is the food itself. Consumers knowledge of taste of a product leads them to go back to that same product. At the same time, packaging can override taste if the information on the package, labeling, nutrition, etc. is overwhelming or confusing. Science can drive purchases when science is conveyed through food marketing. The second factor is the consumer factor, their ability to cook, what they believe to be a “healthful” purchase, what foods are “acceptable” based on family or peer beliefs. Finally, the third factor is the economic piece – what does the product cost and is that acceptable in their mind.

Health Benefits and Food Choices

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) conducts surveys on consumer attitudes and one factor that is a consistent indicator of food choices is price. 3 In the 2022 Food and Health Survey, those surveyed reported making choices based on price. Consumers continue to focus on making more healthful food choices to help fight fatigue and provide more energy. Fruits and vegetables remain a high priority to aid energy levels, weight loss, digestive health, and heart health. Improving immune health remains a goal for many.

 At a recent meeting of the American Society for Nutrition a session focused on what consumers expect when shopping for food.4 The six main factors that consumers look for are:

  • Safety
  • Nutrition
  • Clean label
  • Plant-based
  • Innovation
  • Sustainability

How consumers defined each of these six areas varied, the message for the food industry is that consumers are reading labels, they are looking for quality in the foods they buy, and they do care about the health benefits that their food provides.

How the RD can Help Boost Food Sales

In a 2019 survey, Pew Research Center found that six out of ten consumers report feeling that dietitians care about what is best for their clients.5 In addition, 54% of those surveyed felt dietitians do a good job in making recommendations. Registered Dietitians (RD) help translate the science of food and nutrition into the food that hits grocery shelves. RD’s also know the pulse of their clients making them reliable resources for what foods will sell. In a previous blog, I talked about how I have worked with food companies to develop new products, to interpret what consumers want and to provide concrete guidance on how to best meet wants and nutritional needs. You can read more here

Partnering with an RD to craft effective marketing is one way food companies can engender customer trust and boost sales.

About Connie Connie is a Registered Dietitian with extensive experience communicating in the food and nutrition space. Taking the science of food and nutrition and translating it to simple messages, new products, or exciting menus is her expertise. Making nutrition messages clearaccurate, and engaging aids all consumers.

  1. Food Markets and Prices: Retail Trends. USDA ERS.
  2. Chen, PJ, Antonelli, M. Conceptual Models of Food Choice: Influential Factors Related to Foods, Individual Differences, and Society  Foods. 2020 Dec; 9(12): 1898
  3. 2022 Food and Health Survey. International Food Information Council
  4. Nutrition Live 2022. American Society for Nutrition
  5. Findings at a glance: Dietitians. Pew Research Center. August 2, 2019,

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