A new survey suggests that British attitudes to healthier food will see a sharp growth in the area, combined with a drop in sales for less healthy foods.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Health & Wellness, which polled 30,000 people in 60 countries, ascertains that sugar, salt and artificial additives play a big role in the products people from the UK buy. Some 31% of UK respondents cited “low or sugar free” as “very important” followed by “low salt/sodium”, 29%, “no artificial flavours/colours” and “natural flavours”, both 28%.

Other issues that were in the top 10 “very important” health attributes affecting UK food purchasing included “made from fruit/vegetables”, “low/no cholesterol”, “low/no fat”, “whole grain”, “all natural”, and “high in fibre”.

Britons are most willing to pay a premium price for products that are “all natural”, “gluten free” or “organic”, among the 27 food health attributes covered in the survey,but they are far less likely to pay a premium for healthy attributes in foods than Europeans as a whole, the survey found.

Nielsen said that given the importance attached to “good-for-you” products, these were the most strongly positioned for growth in the future.

It said that Britons were most likely to buy – from a choice of 25 food categories covered in the survey – more fruit and vegetables, nuts/seeds, seafood and yogurt over the next six months.

Nielsen said salty snacks were most likely to see a decline in purchasing, followed by chocolate, biscuits and cakes, crackers and pies, sugar sweets, ice cream and ready-to-eat and frozen meals.