Views expressed by a majority of shoppers that the sugar content in food and drinks is their greatest concern are about to be tested as Britons prepare for Halloween with an anticipated multi-million pound spend on confectionary and cakes.

Findings from the Bridgethorne Shopper Index suggest found that sugar is the area of greatest concern for shoppers, cited by 49.2% of respondents compared to 44% for fat content and 41.6% for additives. This concern appears to be driven primarily by health concerns (28.2% cited the fact that sugar caused health problems as their principal concern. Nearly two thirds of respondents stated they are seeking to reduce sugar in their diets. Halloween is the UK’s third most lucrative festival after Christmas and Easter and ahead of Valentine’s Day. Last year IRI data suggested that £11.5 million was spent on confectionary in supermarkets for the week ending November 1st.

The multiples are understandably keen to make the most of the commercial opportunities that Halloween presents, yet despite shopper concerns over sugar, most are running price reductions and multi-buy offers on Halloween cakes, sweets and chocolate.

“Although sugar is clearly the biggest concern for shoppers, perhaps indicating a long term shift in behaviour and attitudes, it remains to be seen if our buying habits change for set piece calendar occasions like Halloween,” explains John Nevens, Joint Managing Director, Bridgethorne.

“What is clear from The Bridgethorne Shopper Index findings, is that the demand and need for lower sugar products will not subside and this might present an opportunity for anyone offering healthier Trick or Treat snacks. Long-term global macro health trends alongside revelations in the UK, such as childhood obesity, are making this a matter that neither the retailer nor the manufacturing communities can ignore,” adds Nevens.

The Bridgethorne Shopper Index suggests that concerns about what goes into food influences shopper behaviour with over 85% of respondents checking labels: 22.4% of respondents said they always check labels, 31.2% frequently check labels and 32% sometimes check labels. Only 8.8% said they occasionally checked labels whilst just 5.6% admitted to never checking food labelling. Sugar and fat again top the poll for what shoppers check most on labels with sugar the clear leader (56.8% to 49.2%).