Bakery shopper Getty Images

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UK consumers are increasingly seeking to reduce fat and sugar in their diets, with more than half believing it would contribute to better health, according to research by Puratos.

The results of the ‘Taste Tomorrow’ study by the baking ingredients giant show the nation’s shoppers are treating health as a priority, despite the government’s recent announcement that it was postponing some of its measures to restrict the promotion of foods high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS).

The findings from the survey highlight ‘holistic’ conscious consumerism as the biggest food trend for 2022, Puratos said, with gut health and preserving the environment also increasingly high on shoppers’ list of priorities.

The survey found nearly three fifths (59%) of UK consumers showed an interest in products that improve gut health, with 44% looking for food that boosts the immune system and 41% interested in solutions supporting mental health.

The study also found that 65% of consumers believe food made with local ingredients is better for the environment. More than half (53%) look for food produced with care for the environment, and 43% seek products sold in sustainable packaging.

General waste reduction and environmental concern has evolved to include a desire to repurpose leftovers and surplus food, according to the research. Half (50%) of British consumers now have an interest in food brands that claim zero waste, while 37% are interested in products made from upcycled ingredients.

More than half (51%) of UK consumers now agree plant-based food positively impacts the environment, while 43% believe plant-based is healthier than animal-based food.

“Conscious consumerism has had a meteoric rise in recent years and today’s spotlight on climate concerns is accelerating the trend,” said Lydia Baines, patisserie marketing director at Puratos UK, who also warned that the market shift “will be set against a backdrop of rising costs”.

“Manufacturers who balance nutritional and sustainability transparency, uncompromising quality, and affordability can reap significant rewards and gain the much-coveted competitive edge in 2022 and beyond,” Baines added.