Nutritional Quality Down and Packaged Food Purchases Up at Non-Grocery Stores

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Yaneff_071015A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that shoppers are buying more packaged food purchases (PFPs) at non-grocery stores, including convenience stores, warehouse clubs, and mass merchandisers.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that Americans are increasingly buying PFPs from outlets. These products are typically low in nutrients and contain higher amounts of sugar, calories, sodium, and saturated fat when compared to options at grocery stores.

For the study, researchers observed the food purchasing history of over 670,000 households in 24 non-metropolitan and 52 metropolitan areas. The data was collected from the National Consumer Panel between 2000 and 2012. Grocery store purchases dropped from 58.5% to 46.3%, and 10.3% to 5.2% at non-chains. However, there was an increase in mass merchandisers from 13.1% to 23.9%, 6.2% to 9.8% in warehouse clubs, and 3.6% to 5.9% in convenience stores.

The stores included in the study were placed into seven categories, including warehouse clubs such as Costco, mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart, grocery store chains like Kroger, non-chain grocery stores, convenience-drug-dollar stores, ethnic specialty stores, and other retailers like book stores or department stores.

The top PFPs per household included savory snacks, regular soft drinks, grain-based desserts, fresh plain milk, and fruit drinks and juices.

The study utilized a unique method for recording the store and all packaged beverages and foods purchased over the course of a year or more. A barcode scanner recorded all PFPs from households, while avoiding dietary self-reported assessment bias. The PFPs amassed 78% of store-based food purchases.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Stern, D., et al., “The Nutrient Content of U.S. Household Food Purchases by Store Type,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.07.025.
“Packaged Food Purchases at Non-Grocery Stores Are Up but Nutritional Quality is Down,” Alpha Galileo web site, October 5, 2015; http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx.

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