IDDBA’s What’s In Store 2008

It's time to reflect on 2007, analyze trends for 2008 and jump start strategies to give consumers what they want. Consumers are more aware of nutrition and the effects of trans fats, Omega-3s, functional foods, antioxidants, and sweeteners on their health, according to What's In Store 2008, the annual trends report from the Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy Deli Bakery Association, The majority of Americans are giving "a fair amount" or "a lot" of attention to these matters," but attention doesn't necessarily translate into action. They often compare product nutrition labels, only to choose the less healthful option because of taste differences or convenience of packaging and preparation. On the other hand, the food industry is adapting to consumers' changing health priorities. Portion size stymies consumers Portion control has become a priority for many people who want to lose or maintain weight, but a lack of understanding of what constitutes a serving stymies consumers. efforts. Schemes for identifying portion size, such as "fist-sized," can be inaccurate and difficult to use. Most Americans are not able to gauge appropriate serving sizes and are unable to estimate the number of calories they need throughout the day. The industry is responding by providing 100-calorie packs, single-serving entrees, and half-size soda cans. Users of use their cell phone camera to take pictures of their meals, e-mail the pictures to the Web site, and then receive twice-a-month feedback regarding the nutritional composition and portion size of their food choices. Graphic labels help Many retailers have devised their own labeling systems to flag products' nutritional qualities. The Hannaford Brothers, Portland, Maine, "Guiding Stars" system uses one, two, or three stars to rank the nutritional value of over 27,000 items. The analysis is based on information from the Nutrition Facts label, list of ingredients, and the USDA. Stars appear on shelf tags, right next to price information. Ukrop's, Richmond, Va., uses what it calls "Wellness Keys." For consumers who are on restricted diets, unique labels identify products that are low in sodium, low in fat, gluten free, good for diabetes management, or vegan. And Harris Teeter, Matthews, N.C., has 21 package labels and shelf tags that designate lean, lactose-free, heart-healthy, and "excellent" or "good" sources of nutrients, among other qualities. In the UK, manufacturers use Traffic Light Labeling on food packages to help consumers quickly identify basic nutrition information. Red, amber, and green respectively designate high, medium, and low levels of fat, saturated fat, sugars, and salt in a portion of food, while in Sweden, a green or black keyhole symbol indicates that the product meets nutritional standards for low-fat and high-fiber content. Food as medicine Functional foods, those that have ingredients that are medically beneficial, beyond their basic nutritional value, are predicted to grow about 10 percent annually in the U.S. Ingredients in highest demand will be CoQ10, glucosamine, probiotics, sterol esters, Omega-3 fatty acids, and whey protein, says Don Montuori, Publisher of Packaged Facts. Consumers want products for heart health, stamina, digestion, appetite suppression, disease prevention, immune strengthening, and mental agility. Organic market grows Many consumers perceive certified organic foods as more healthful than conventional fare. This perception helped organic food sales reach $17 million in 2006, and the Organic Trade Association projects that sales of fresh organic products will increase 11 percent annually from 2007 to 2010. Perhaps more significant is organic foods increasing market share. In 2003, share was 1.9 percent; 2005 share was up to 2.5 percent; and 2006 share was 3 percent. Ten years ago, the organic consumer was generally limited to upper income and education levels, but no longer. The Hartman Group reports 73 percent of survey respondents purchase organic products at least occasionally.
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