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Survey: Natural Fats Healthier than Processed Foods

August 26, 2020

In an era where faux hamburgers “bleed” and meat substitutes are among the hottest “commodities” in the food business, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe “natural” is healthier than “processed” and that plant-based diets clearly belong within the “highly processed” camp.

So say respondents in the first-ever Coast Packing Company/Healthy Fats Coalition (HFC)

Animal Fats Study, conducted this spring by Ipsos Research among 1,004 consumers nationwide. On the table were the relative merits of processed foods, including artificial meat substitutes, and natural animal fats.

The survey marks the first joint project by Coast Packing, the number one supplier of animal fat shortenings in the Western United States, and the HFC, an educational initiative comprised of organizations, companies and individuals of committed to clarifying the role of animal fats in the American diet. Coast is a founding member of the HFC.

Among the survey’s key findings:

Overall, almost 2/3 (62 percent) of Americans believe that natural fats — lard, beef tallow, butter, chicken fat, duck fat, etc. — are healthier than processed foods (vegetable oil-based food items like hydrogenated oils, palm oil, margarine and spreads, etc.). Only 15 percent believe that processed foods are healthier than natural fats, and 22 percent don’t know.

Women are more convinced that natural fats are healthier than processed foods (70 percent) compared to 54 percent for men, with only 10 percent of women (compared to 21 percent of men) believing that processed foods are healthier than natural fats, and 21 percent of women(versus 24 percent of men) indicating that they don’t know.

Older respondents (age 55+) are relatively less likely to believe that natural fats are healthier than processed foods (58 percent), compared to 61 percent for ages 18-34 and 68 percent for ages 35-54.

Overall, almost 2/3 (61 percent) of Americans indicated that they know that plant-based meat is a highly processed food, with a very similar gender distribution of 62 percent of men and 59 percent of women.

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