More Shoppers Are Willing to Pay Premium for Natural, Ethical Food

(Bloomberg) -- More and more U.S. shoppers are convinced it’s worthwhile to part with their dollars for food with labels making wellness and ethics claims.

About 70 percent of shoppers are willing to pay premiums for foods in the natural, ethical, enhanced or ‘less of...’ categories, according to a survey of 1,600 people undertaken by L.E.K Consulting. That includes claims like antibiotic-free, organic, protein-rich, sugar-free and others. The result, released Monday, is up about 10 percentage points from two years ago.

Such trends are what’s behind the rise of Halo Top, which became the bestselling ice cream pint in the U.S. with its high-protein, low-sugar profile, and Caulipower, a veggie pizza crust that’s now a multimillion-dollar brand, according to the report.

It’s not that Americans’ tastes for decadent foods have changed much. Consumers “still delight in products that are indulgent and delicious -- but now with quality ingredients supplanting processed and nutritionally empty ones,” said Maria Steingoltz, a Chicago-based managing director at L.E.K.

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