NPD animal protein consumption graphic
Click for larger view. (The NPD Group/National Eating Trends, two years ending February)

CHICAGO – A World Health Organization study that classified processed meats as carcinogenic to humans is unlikely to change consumers’ dietary habits, The NPD Group, a leading global information company, reported in its latest “National Eating Trends” study.

“What our analysis shows is that we humans are creatures of habit for the most part and are slow to change but we do evolve,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “It’s that slow evolution in both attitudes and behaviors to which producers, processors, food manufacturers and retailers must pay attention.”

NPD analyzed consumption behavior following the 2002 release of an American Cancer Society report that recommended consumers limit their intake of processed and red meats. The report, which cited numerous epidemiological studies, suggested that approximately 35 percent of cancer deaths may be avoided through dietary modifications.

But after comparing consumption trends before and after the 2002 report, NPD found no discernible difference in eating trends. NPD found that processed meat consumption did decline somewhat beginning in 2005. But consumption of processed meats steadily increased beginning in 2007 through 2014. Additionally, poultry consumption also increased from 2003 through 2007 and has plateaued since. NPD observed consumption trends for processed meats, fish/seafood, steak, bacon, bacon substitutes, poultry, ham and ground beef products.