Big nutrient knowledge gap uncovered by new research

28 January 2019
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The demand to live a healthier lifestyle is increasing, yet 4 in 5 people across Northern Europe do not know about the essential nutrients they have in their diet. 

New research out today from Arla Foods* has uncovered a big knowledge gap when it comes to our understanding about food, with 40 per cent also admitting they feel lacking in some of the essentials. Concerningly, almost half of people don’t recognise dairy products as a natural source of vitamins and minerals.**

The insights of more than 7,000 people across Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Finland and the UK also reveals that a quarter of people skip a meal, even though they are hungry.

37 per cent of this group cite saving time as the most common reason, yet 60 per cent of people questioned do not recognise that many dairy products are a single natural source of vitamins and minerals**. Including calcium, protein, B vitamins, this makes it away of consuming key nutrients.

The findings highlight that despite more people wanting to lead a healthier life (51 per cent state they see themselves as a healthy eater) there is still uncertainty when it comes to knowing exactly what we should consume. A better understanding of what is in the food we eat will make it easier to buy and shop for a healthy and balanced diet for people of all ages.

Hanne Søndergaard, CMO at Arla Foods, comments on the findings:

“It’s clear from the research that there is still a lot to educate consumers on when it comes to nutrition. The demand to live healthier lives is constantly increasing yet we can only do this when we truly understand our food and the impact that food has on our body. Food literacy needs to be improved so people can compose meals which are rich and varied in essential nutrients. Establishing good food habits is the foundation of what we at Arla stand for to help people across the world live a healthy life."

“Consumers are constantly demanding new experiences from their food and new trends are emerging all the time. Our vision is firmly rooted in bringing the nutritional benefits of milk** into exciting concepts that meet these demands and ultimately help them understand how dairy can be part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle.”

When it comes to how the countries stack up, 2 in 3 Brits wrongly think there is more than 10 per cent fat in whole milk, when actually it only contains under four per cent,with semi-skimmed even lower at around 1.7 per cent.In Finland, more than a third believe the fat content in milk to be more than 10 per cent.

Food confusion is prevalent across European countries, with three quarters of people in Sweden not recognising dairy products as a source of protein. In Denmark 1 in 3 people cut a specific food from their diet. For Germans, a quarter only eat one main meal a day, highlighting why almost half of the nation might feel they may be lacking in key vitamins and nutrients.

A common theme across Northern Europeans is the desire to reduce the amount of sugar. A third of people across Denmark, Sweden, Finland, UK and Germany admit to cutting out a specific food, with 40 per cent of those saying they aim to omit sugar from what they eat. As a responsible food producer, Arla recognises its role in helping people live a healthier life, through our nutrition criteria. These are the guiding principles that support Arla branded products, to make sure that the good stuff** in milk is retained whilst limiting the amount of added sugar, fat and salt.

“As one of the world's leading dairy companies, we can develop improved products and new initiatives that can inspire better health in everyday life. This means that we have both a responsibility and opportunity to make a difference to global diet-related health challenges,” concludes Hanne.

For more information on the nutrition of milk and dairy as part of a healthy and balanced diet, visit Arla’s health pages at

*The survey was conducted by the YouGov analysis institute. A total of 7,200 CAWI interviews took place across Germany, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the UK aged 18+ during the period 18th December 2018-11th January 2019.

** Per 100ml milk is a natural source of protein, calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, phosphorus, iodine and potassium. Milk and dairy should be consumed as part of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet.

Per 100g hard cheeses (e.g. Cheddar and Havarti types) are  natural sources of protein, calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, phosphorus, zinc. Hard cheeses should be consumed as part of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet.

Per 100g low fat shredded mozzarella are natural sources of protein, calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, phosphorus, zinc. Low fat shredded mozzarella should be consumed as part of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet.

Per 100ml Kefir is a natural sources of protein, calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, phosphorus, iodine and potassium. Kefir should be consumed as part of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet.

Protein contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass

Calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal bones

Calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal teeth

Calcium is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children

Vitamin B12 contributes to the normal function of the immune system

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and vitamin B12 contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue

Notes to editor - other key highlights from the research

  • Only 40 per cent of people recognise high levels of protein are contained in cow’s milk
  • A total of 34 per cent of people cut a food from their diet, of those 45 per cent do so because they believe it will make them healthier
  • Half of people decide to cut out a food from after their twenties, with 1 in 5 citing they do so from being a teenager
  • When it comes to skipping meals, breakfast is the most common with over half of those people giving it a miss in the morning
  • In Sweden and Denmark, more than 40 per cent of people also skip lunch
  • 23 per cent of people cite losing weight and reducing calorie intake as a reason for skipping meals 

Arla Foods is an international dairy company owned by 11.200 farmers from Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. Arla Foods is one of the strongest players in the international dairy arena, with a wide range of dairy products of highest quality. Well-known brands like Arla®, Lurpak® and Castello® belong to the Arla family. Arla Foods is also the world's largest manufacturer of organic dairy products.

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Arla Group Press Office
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Theis Brøgger
Theis Brøgger Press contact for Arla Foods International +45 40 33 10 47 +45 89 38 10 00
Åse Andersson
Åse Andersson Press contact for Arla Foods in Denmark +45 91 310 310 +45 89 38 10 00
Carina Østergaard
Carina Østergaard Press contact for Arla Foods International +45 91 31 16 01 +45 89 38 10 00