British shoppers are increasingly willing to sacrifice taste and convenience in their quest to eat more healthy foods, according to a new study.

The report by market research company HealthFocus Europe, seen exclusively by The Grocer, says that 47% of people questioned rarely or never sacrificed good taste for health benefits. Although a significant chunk of the population, this figure was down from 56% in 2000 and 51% in 2003, when HealthFocus Europe carried out identical surveys.

However, an increasing number of shoppers also said they believed that healthy foods could taste good. Some 48% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that healthy foods tasted good, up from 30% in 2003 and 32% in 2000.

And convenience is now less of a barrier to healthy eating with shoppers finding choice between the two unnecessary. A quarter of shoppers said they rarely or never sacrificed convenience for health benefits, down from 39% in 2003 and 37% in 2000.

The survey also offered evidence of increasing consumer awareness of health and a backlash against pro­cessed foods.

Some 70% quizzed agreed or strongly agreed that diet was very important, up from 52% in 2003 and 53% three years earlier in 2000.

A third of shoppers said they were decreasing their consumption of processed foods, while 45% admitted to being extremely or very concerned about highly processed foods.

Some 40% of those asked reported having decreased their consumption of salt and sugar in the past two years. However, the Food Standards Agency and government health ministers should beware - 55% of those surveyed said they were "getting tired" of experts telling them which foods are good for them. This was up from 49% in 2003 and 46% in 2000.

The 2005 HealthFocus survey was conducted with 500 primary grocery shoppers in November 2005.