Low carb equals high status

Young people between 20 and 25 are looking for more healthy “food on the move” alternatives, but the hot dog is still just as popular - because it is good, practical and filling.

Master degree student Siri Mohagen has used focus group studies with students aged 20 to 25 to review young people’s preferences and attitudes to fast food. The survey is part of Nofima Mat’s contribution to the Nordic research project Nordic Young Health.

Don’t want to use a knife for fast food

“Among those selected for the focus groups, the boys ate fast food more often than the girls. The boys associate buying fast food with a pleasant and enjoyable experience, while shortage of time is the most important reason for girls buying this type of food. Also the girls think of fast food as being more unhealthy than the boys do,” says Mohagen.

Other important factors when buying food on the move are price, availability and a feeling of fullness – and not least whether it depends on using cutlery. The young people thought that having to use a knife was especially incompatible with the idea of food on the move.

Chicken yes, carbohydrates no

The members of the focus groups have clear preferences when it comes to both product types and sales outlets. Individual ingredients can increase or decrease the status of the food, often based on whether or not the ingredients are seen as being unhealthy. While chicken for example gives a positive lift, carbohydrates can lower the status.

“In this context it would appear that daily and weekly pressure can govern perceptions of what is healthy to a greater extent than the information from the health authorities,” explains Mohagen.

According to her study, future trends for the food on the move segment will focus on price and health, a global food culture and sensory preferences, with colour and freshness being the most important. It is also important that the food should be safe, portable and eco-friendly.

Important for future innovation work

Some definite food desires that came out of the focus groups were soup served in a cup with a cover (preferably from dedicated soup bars), more use of chicken, more healthy food, more smoothies and cheaper bottled water.

“The results of Siri Mohagen’s studies will be useful in developing products that appeal to young adults and that also have a good nutritional profile,” says Øydis Ueland, Director, Consumer and Sensory Sciences at Nofima Mat and one of Mohagen’s teaching supervisors.

Ueland is leading Nofima Mat’s input to Nordic Young Health, which is a collaboration project between several Nordic organisations involved with food and consumer research. The research project is financed by NICe (Nordic Innovation Centre).

Consumer and sensory sciences  

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