CHICAGO – Nearly three in 10 food products launched between January and September of 2012 were private label, an increase of about 4 percentage points from 2011, according to Mintel.

“As Americans are presented with a wider variety of private label food offerings and cheaper alternatives to purchasing the otherwise same quality goods, they will more easily be able to pursue interests in cooking at home, regardless of their respective household incomes,” said Gretchen Grabowski, leisure analyst at Mintel.

While cost is an important consideration when it comes to cooking at home, nutrition is equally as important. Forty-six per cent of respondents who cook strongly agree that cooking at home is a healthier option than purchasing prepared foods from a store, and 42 percent agree cooking at home is healthier than eating at restaurants.

Additionally, 43 percent of Americans said buying and using food packaging that maintains freshness and taste is very important, and 35 percent agree using ingredients with the highest nutritional value is important. Twenty-three per cent believe supporting local food and produce vendors is very important, but just 13 percent feel a strong need to buy organic food and ingredients.

Overall, 26 percent of consumers said they love cooking, 35 percent said they like it and 31 percent said they don’t mind it compared with just 9 percent who said they dislike cooking. To top it off, 20 percent of US consumers said their cooking levels is advanced with 46 percent saying they are at least at an intermediate level in their cooking stills.

“This enthusiasm for cooking at home is likely to persist despite having more disposable income that could be spent dining out,” Grabowski said. “In addition to a perception that cooking is more cost effective, it is also a principal way in which Americans are bettering their health, bonding with family and preserving their own familial traditions. There is also an element of surprise or adventure involved in cooking at home, as those who participate can experiment with new foods and learn about other cultures.”