Nestlé Study 2024 shows longing for light-heartedness

Eating in the field of tension between renunciation and enjoyment

Nestlé Deutschland AG / Getty AI

Nestlé Study 2024

The topic of nutrition is putting people in Germany under pressure, according to the new Nestlé study "So is(s)t Deutschland 2024". People's expectations of themselves are rising, and with them their dissatisfaction. Four solutions can help resolve the dilemma. There are clear expectations of manufacturers and brands.

From wars to climate change to inflation - the crises of our time influence the eating habits of people in Germany. The relationship with food has become much more tense, people's expectations of themselves have risen and at the same time satisfaction has fallen. These are the findings of the Nestlé study "So is(s)t Deutschland 2024", for which the market research institute rheingold conducted psychological group and in-depth interviews and surveyed a representative sample of 2,040 German citizens between the ages of 16 and 84 online.

Nutrition is no longer just about food intake, but has become the subject of many expectations, beliefs and convictions. People want to live up to the ideals of health optimization and moderation and meet moral requirements regarding animal welfare or climate protection, as the study shows. For example, 53% of all respondents stated that they are very concerned with their own diet, compared to 37% in 2018.

More pressure, more frustration

The crisis-induced retreat into the private sphere has resulted in an increased focus on personal nutrition. This goes hand in hand with a rising level of frustration: 89% of respondents are dissatisfied with at least one aspect of their own diet, and in the younger age group of 16 to 27-year-olds (Generation Z) this figure rises to 96%. 72% of all respondents stated that they should eat more healthily, compared to 54% in 2018. And only half of respondents are satisfied or very satisfied with their own weight, compared to 63% in 2018. This is associated with almost one in three Generation Z respondents feeling ashamed of their own diet.

"The increased self-centeredness of many people has also increased the individual pressure to live up to self-imposed nutritional ideals in recent years," says Stephan Grünewald, co-founder of the rheingold Institute. "Light-heartedness is being lost. Many people feel driven out of the paradise of a natural diet."

Among the feared negative consequences of an unhealthy diet, figure problems rank at the top with 65%, followed by illnesses such as dementia, diabetes and cardiovascular problems with 53%. Sluggishness or poor performance were feared by just under half of respondents (47%). Almost a third of respondents (31%) even see a risk of early death. Only one in ten respondents did not see any negative consequences of an unhealthy diet.

Strategies for more light-heartedness

According to the study, there are four ways in which people in Germany are trying to bring more light-heartedness back into their daily diet:

  • The new moderation to adapt to the increased demands of our time. For example, 70% of respondents plan their food shopping in advance (2018: 53%), 44% look for products with as little packaging as possible when shopping (zero-waste concept) and avoiding meat is becoming more relevant.
  • The new pragmatism: people feel entitled to take a pragmatic approach to their diet and free themselves from idealistic baggage due to the pressure to save money and an increasingly stressful everyday life. For example, 47% of people in Germany say they prefer to cook simple dishes (2018: 31%). Younger Gen Z in particular is increasingly using delivery services (almost one in five people do so two to three times a month) and, overall, eating together is more important than global sustainability claims and ideals.
  • Hidden indulgence on the side, i.e. casual snacking, undermines the conscious radar and thus prevents feelings of guilt and shame from arising in the first place. When consuming on the side, consumers' expectations of themselves are much lower than with conventional meals. Here, nutrition serves as emotional shock absorption and Gen Z in particular has a recognizable desire to eat regressively in bed and at the same time fill up on media on the side (50% regularly snack in front of the screen).
  • The retro trend, in which people long for a more wholesome and hearty world of indulgence and are resistant to new food trends. For example, 28% of respondents agree with the statement that they enjoy eating meat and will not reduce their consumption in the future.

Brands and politics should help ease the burden

36% of respondents expect politicians to take regulatory responsibility when it comes to nutrition and other challenges such as animal welfare, sustainability, climate protection and packaging. In terms of specific measures, 84% of respondents would like to see a reduction in VAT for healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables, 71% want an obligation to offer healthy food in schools or company canteens and 64% expect manufacturers to be obliged to protect human rights in their supply chain.

People believe that the big brands and manufacturers are even more responsible than politicians. For example, 46% of respondents said that manufacturers must do more and take responsibility for issues ranging from animal welfare and climate protection to packaging waste. This conviction stems from the fact that people feel they cannot achieve anything on their own and cannot take care of everything despite the pressures of everyday life. In contrast, they believe that brands and manufacturers have the ability to bring about real change, as the survey revealed. And consumers see the need for brands and manufacturers to offer solutions and help ease the burden of a difficult everyday diet, not only when it comes to sustainability, but also when it comes to healthy eating.

Nestlé takes responsibility

"The study clearly shows what consumers expect from companies," says Alexander von Maillot, CEO of Nestlé Germany. "Namely, that they take responsibility for the two topics of healthy eating and sustainability. This is exactly what we are doing with our 'Good for You - Good for the Planet' strategy. We will continue to drive both forward: Firstly, continuing to work on improving our products, expanding our plant-based offerings and supporting consumers in making the right choices through transparency, advice and services. And secondly, to become more sustainable. For example, we are clearly on track to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and we are committed to improving the lives of people in our supply chains, for example in cocoa farming."

"The comparison with past Nestlé studies illustrates how our eating habits have changed over time," comments Georg Abel, Federal Managing Director of VERBRAUCHER INITIATIVE (Federal Association) and spokesperson for the independent NGO and expert advisory board of Nestlé Germany. "It is important to understand these changes and find ways to ensure a healthy and balanced diet even in challenging times. Educating and motivating consumers is not only the responsibility of manufacturers and retailers, but also of politicians and civil society."

Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.

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