Consumers not getting enough fiber

by Bryan Salvage
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CHICAGO — Fiber is noticeably absent from the typical American diet, according to recent Mintel research. One in three respondents to a recent survey consider their diet to be healthy, but only one in five report actively looking for and buying products with added health claims.

Based on these results, only a minority of adults are likely to be interested in fiber-enhanced products with digestive claims.

Some poultry processors have added fiber to their products during the past decade, but not many...and not recently, according to Mintel. “I checked our Global New Products Database and it seems the last meat/poultry product that was launched with added fiber came out in 2008,” a Mintel spokesperson told MEATPOULTRY.com.

Murray's Chicken Gluten-Free Breaded Chicken Nuggets, introduced in 2008, do not contain gluten, soy, eggs and milk. They are made from chickens that have a vegetarian diet, without antibiotics, hormones, or growth stimulants. Among product claims is the product contains added fiber. Five varieties of Casual Gourmet All Turkey Sausage, which were introduced in 2003, also contain added fiber.

Although 30% of consumers say they’re dedicated to eating naturally fiber-rich foods, studies show most Americans are failing to meet their recommended daily fiber intake. This may be explained by the 27% of respondents who think food with added fiber usually has an unpleasant taste.

“Many people have negative perceptions about the taste of fiber,” said Molly Heyl-Rushmer, senior health and wellness analyst at Mintel. “The taste deters them from eating a fiber-added product that has numerous health benefits.”

Twenty-five percent of respondents think fiber is only necessary for those who suffer from irregularity or other digestive problems, with men being more likely than women believing this. Thirty percent of men (compared to 23% of women) also believe supplements are just as effective as fiber-enriched foods.

Although research shows a lack of fiber is linked to various cancers, heart disease and diabetes, 22% of consumers don’t know enough about fiber to know if it is important to their health. Also, 37% believe they can get enough fiber from regular foods, so supplements and food with added fiber are unnecessary.

“Consumers are more likely to report limiting sugar, fat, sodium, and calorie intake than they are to eat naturally fiber-rich foods,” said Ms. Heyl-Rushmer. “Adults don’t fully understand the link between fiber and health. The way men view fiber is a considerable obstacle for marketers to overcome.”

She believes using “macho” spokesmen in commercial advertising to gently poke fun at these false beliefs — and convince men they’re incorrect — could be a successful marketing tool. She further advises marketers to implement money-back guarantees and educational initiatives to dispel negative perceptions, as well as inform the consumer about fiber’s importance in their diet.
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