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Finances Trigger American Reluctance to Spend More on Healthier Foods

Soy Remains a Favorite Ingredient for Families Seeking Affordable Meals

ST. LOUIS, June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Almost half (46 percent) of Americans are reluctant to spend more on healthier versions of food, the United Soybean Board's (USB) 2009 Consumer Attitudes about Nutrition survey reveals. This is not for lack of interest: Of those not willing to spend more, 52 percent confirm the reason is financial. However, nutritious foods don't always come with a hefty price tag. Nutrient-dense soyfoods are affordable and allow Americans to eat healthy for less.

According to the sixteenth annual research study, 87 percent of Americans express concern about the nutritional content of the food they eat, a number that reflects Americans' interest in healthier foods. While consumers juggle nutrition and economic value, 88 percent still consider nutrition important when purchasing foods at the grocery store.

Within price constraints, Americans are taking greater control of their health by choosing functional foods that provide specific health benefits. According to Packaged Facts' Functional Foods and Beverages study, U.S. retail sales for functional foods totaled $31 billion in 2008, an increase from $26.9 billion in 2006. Soymilk faired especially well in sales.

USB's study demonstrates the heightened awareness of soyfoods' health benefits, as 84 percent of Americans rate soy as healthy, up 25 percentage points over the last 12 years. In fact, one-third of Americans purchase foods specifically because they contain soy.

"Soy products are an ideal option for those seeking budget-friendly meals. For example, a block of tofu can star as the protein in a family meal for less than $2, and soybean oil costs one-quarter of the price of some other healthy oils," said Lisa Kelly, MPH, RD of the United Soybean Board.

Americans' Awareness of Soyfoods

Americans indicate they seek out soy products because they are low in fat, are good sources of protein, reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol.

Eighty-four percent of Americans recognize soybean oil as very or somewhat healthy. Soybean oil contains zero grams of trans fat, which can often be a deterrent for many consumers at the grocery store. In fact, 59 percent say they would be more likely to buy a product that they currently purchase if the food company reformulated the product to eliminate trans fats. New varieties of soybean oil are giving food companies more ways to do just that.

Awareness and usage of soy protein products continues to climb. Soymilk is most popular, with nearly one-quarter of Americans reporting they drink it regularly. According to Mintel's Soy-based Food and Drink report, soymilk sales grew 61 percent from 2003 to 2008. Emerging soyfoods have also sparked consumers' interest. Today, 17 percent of Americans have tried edamame (young green soybeans) at least once, a significant increase from three percent in 2000.

USB's 16th annual Consumer Attitudes about Nutrition was conducted by an independent research firm. The study includes 1,009 random online surveys conducted in January 2009, providing a sample that is consistent the total U.S. population. The study's margin of error is +/- 1.9 to 3.1 percent, with a confidence interval of 95 percent. The United Soybean Board is a farmer-led organization comprised of 68 farmer-directors. For more health information about soy, visit

SOURCE United Soybean Board
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