Consumers will pay more for healthy food

Growing global trends provide new opportunities for producers and retailers, expecially the growth of organic, natural and functional foods and the animal welfare

In 2017 there are a few food trends who are either continuing to grow among consumers and others who are just starting to see the promise for future growth. For the past few years organic and natural foods have seen steady growth and this trends seem to be continuing as more consumers seek these products as well as all-natural, gluten-free and free-from foods. The market for organic foods is projected to grow at over 7% globally according to Rabobank while the market for gluten free products is expected to continue its global growth of 7-10% annually, according to a report by Markets to Markets. However this trend is not limited to fruits and vegetables. According to Nielsen natural cookies have seen 23% growth in the past year while both natural candy products and natural salty snack products have seen a 17% growth in sales. Consumers do want to eat healthier but if they can find a healthier version of the foods they still love but are trying to avoid. Another piece of this trend is the numbers of products which are reducing additives in their products. The report also found 22% of consumers are watching how much sugar they eat while another 21% are watching how much sodium is in their products. This desire by consumers has not been lost on manufacturers and retailers. Companies like Tesco are reducing the sugar in their products while others are promoting products with have less salt and less fat.

The retailers’ healthy policy

In a recent Nielsen survey 63% of Americans said they were actively trying to eat healthier while another 49% were consciously eating products with reduced fats, gluten, salt or sugar. Still other companies are eliminating artificial colors and certain kinds of chemicals from their products. Walmart has announced it will stop adding 8 types of chemicals to 90,000 of its products while Target has announced similar goals to reduce chemicals in their cleaning and cosmetic products. It is a wise move as a Mintel report found over 60% of consumers are worried about the chemicals in some products and are actively seeking natural alternatives to those products. The clean label trend It is a trend called ‘clean labels’, where consumers can read a product’s ingredients and not see items they are unfamiliar with, such as many chemical names. Another trend which continues to develop in Europe and is now starting to appear in the United States is animal welfare. For years Europe has been working to have only cage-free eggs in their stores or products and more companies are announcing deadlines to have that happen. Carrefour and Tesco are two examples of companies actively working to have a cage-free only egg policy but now Lidl and Aldi Sud are going one step further. They are seeking products which meet the needs of ethical consumers through animal welfare products. These companies and other make sure their meat, poultry and dairy products are all supplies with animals having been treated humanely treated throughout the supply chain. Consumers have been avoiding products manufactured using child labor for years but now there is increased awareness of the treatment of animals so more are seeking food and non-food products which fit this concern.

The aging population

A broader trend that is appearing in both food and non-food products is aging populations and the issues that accompany it. In most countries the population and the number of people over 50 and 65 are growing and as people live longer the numbers of seniors who will live to be 90 or 100 are going to reach record numbers. The global population of people age 65 and over is expected to double from 8% in 2010 to 16% of the population by 2050. In the United States presently there are 48 million consumers 85 years or older but that number is expected to reach 98 million in 30 years, from 15% of the population to nearly 25%.Consumers are trying to stay healthy and in good shape longer and they are aware of health issues more than ever. In addition to eating healthier people are seeking to take better care of themselves with OTC and non-food products such as 81mg aspirin and vitamins. According to Euromonitor the US market for supplements is US$27 billion and is growing at an average of 5% a year. Supplement and OTC products are not immune from consumers seeking clean labels and no artificial ingredients. According to Nielsen sales of probiotic supplements with GMO free claims are up 101% while sales for supplement products with claims of natural ingredients is up 28%. More and more products on the shelves are providing consumers with the free from and other lack of ingredients they are trying to avoid. 41% of new probiotic supplements and vitamins had gluten-free claims, another 36% touted soy ingredients while 17% said they were organic and another 20% said they were free of any artificial colors or flavors.

Key factors

✓ Some 88% of those polled are willing to pay more for healthier foods.

✓ All demographics – from Generation Z to Baby Boomers – say they would pay more for healthy foods, including those that are GMO-free, have no artificial coloring/flavors and are deemed all natural.

Functional foods – including foods high in fiber (36%), protein (32%), whole grains (30%) or fortified with calcium (30%), vitamins (30%) or minerals (29%) – that can either reduce disease and/or promote good health also are desirable.