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Poll: Older U.S. adults tend to make health-conscious decisions when purchasing food, beverages

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Most U.S. adults are health-conscious when it comes to purchasing food and beverages, and many tend to purchase healthier products as they age, according to a new Harris poll.

Among 2,379 adults surveyed online between March 7 and 14 by Harris Interactive, at least three-quarters of all U.S. adults placed importance on fresh (89%), fiber (81%), whole grains (81%), fat content (80%), portion size (79%), calories (77%) and saturated fat (76%) when making food and beverage purchases. Specialized nutritional items, however, are rated much lower, with 33% and 20% rating gluten and vegan, respectively, as important.

The poll also found that "matures," consumers ages 66 years and older, are the most likely of all generations to pay close attention to nutritional facts and translate their health consciousness into behavior, likely due to the fact that they need to follow a diet with specific restrictions. More than three-quarters of "matures" (76%) have a diet restriction, compared with 58% of baby boomers (ages 47 to 65 years), 50% of generation Xers (ages 35 to 46 years) and 51% of echo boomers (ages 18 to 34 years). What’s more, "matures" also are more likely to curb their salt or sugar intake than any other generational group.

The latest poll may indicate that nutritional initiatives in recent years likely have boosted health-conscious decisions when it comes to eating habits, although translating awareness into behavior should continue to be reinforced.

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Consumer confidence up despite rising gas prices

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK — Consumer confidence recovered somewhat in April, though the impact of rising gasoline prices still is evident, according to data released Tuesday by the Conference Board.

The confidence index hit 65.4 in April, from an upwardly revised 63.8 in March. The reading still is below the 72.0 mark of February.

“Consumers’ short-term outlook improved slightly, suggesting that the uncertainty expressed last month is easing,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s consumer research center. “Although confidence remains weak, consumers’ assessment of current conditions gained ground for the seventh straight month, a sign that the economic recovery continues.”

While expectations among consumers that business conditions will improve over the next six months declined to 18.8% from 20.8%, those anticipating business conditions to worsen decreased to 14.2% from 15.5%.

Consumers were mixed about labor market outlook for the next six months. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined to 17.5% from 19.6%, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 19% from 20.5%.

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Costco increases dividend, announces share buyback

BY Allison Cerra

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Wholesaler Costco on Tuesday said its board of directors has approved a $4 billion share buyback program. The company also raised its quarterly dividend by 17% to 24 cents, up from 20.5 cents.

The share buyback program expires in April 2015 and replaces a previous plan set to expire in July, which had $800 million remaining, the company said.

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