It’s the time of year when stores are selling junk food packs and grocery bags and even other junk foods and snacks like potato chips and pasta sauce, but if you have one in your purse, it could be worth it to keep it.
In a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers found that the more a consumer knows about the food they buy, the more likely they are to purchase and use it.
The study, led by Dr. Christopher Glynn, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Georgia, looked at the prevalence of junk food consumption by consumers in three U.S. markets.
The markets studied were New York, Chicago, and Las Vegas.
In New York and Chicago, the researchers found the prevalence rates of junk foods increased by roughly 50 percent over the past five years, while the prevalence rate of packaged food increased by 40 percent over that time.
In Las Vegas, the increase was less dramatic, but still significant.
In Chicago, a large majority of people who bought food products from stores reported using them within the last year, the study found.
But people in Las Vegas were less likely to report using food products at all.
The researchers did find some differences in how people use packaged foods in Las Vegas compared to New York.
In New York City, consumers reported purchasing food products packaged in smaller quantities, with fewer calories and fewer serving sizes.
In Las Vegas however, the bulk of food items purchased in the city are packaged in larger quantities, and the majority of consumers use them within a week or two of purchasing them.
The findings highlight the importance of the food information technology (IT) revolution, said Glynn.
Consumers have access to a wide range of food information in their homes, but often do not always know what to do with it.
“There is a huge opportunity for IT companies to offer consumers a better understanding of what their food choices are,” he said.
In addition, the results show that the prevalence and usage of packaged foods can be influenced by a number of factors, including demographics, food availability, and price.
The research also found that consumers in New York tended to eat more packaged food, with the exception of food from specialty restaurants, and were more likely to have used packaged foods within the previous year.
Consumers in Las Vegas were also more likely than consumers in Chicago to use packaged food at the same time.
“It’s not surprising that New York consumers are buying more packaged foods, because New Yorkers are more likely and more affluent,” said Glynns co-author, Dr. Jennifer Koczela.
“Consumers are more interested in the convenience of buying products packaged as easily as possible.
Consumers can then use this information to make smart purchasing decisions.”
Glynn said that the findings were not surprising given the number of consumers who use food information online, which can often offer a greater variety of food choices.
“The more you know about the foods you buy, you’re more likely you’re going to buy and eat more of them,” he explained.
“The technology can offer a way to give consumers that more information about the products they buy.
The more information you have, the better.”