New Hope Natural Media and Sterling-Rice Group have released the
top five natural products industry food trends in the U.S. market as
consumers shift strongly to healthier eating and embrace a renewed focus on
health and disease prevention.
In 2012, U.S. consumer sales of natural, organic, and functional foods and beverages totaled $94.7 billion of the overall $703 billion food pie. By taking stock of the trends and forces laid out in the NEXT: Forecast, food and beverage companies, large and small, will have the greatest opportunity for growth within the natural products space.
The current five natural food trends are:
1. Convenience is King: 100 million (or nearly half) of American adults today are single and many of them live alone. Given that so many people are flying solo, we're spending less time in the kitchen. One potentially lucrative (at least in the long term) demographic is the millennials, as they are entering adulthood now, and they view health, nutrition, and branding differently than boomers.
2. Allergen Concerns on the Rise: Six million children have food allergies, according to the Pediatrics Journal. Ninety percent of all food allergy reactions are caused by eight major foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Americans are awakening to their allergies, more manufacturers are creating entirely 'free-from' products so consumers can enjoy without worry.
3. Meat Free Mentality: One-third of Americans now report eating vegetarian meals a significant amount of the time, and 48 percent of U.S. shoppers seek good-tasting vegetarian food, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group's 2011 national poll. Even if they are not full-fledged vegetarians or vegans, a growing number of consumers fall into the "flexitarian" bucket, meaning that they are looking to cut at least some meat from their diets and replace it with plant-based foods.
4. Labeling Goes Local: 75 percent of natural food retailers say local is the most influential product claim in grocery right now. People, seeking to connect with where their food is sourced and support nearby businesses are increasingly seeking this claim. Local is expected to continue to gain prominence over the next three to five years, thanks to forces such as the Slow Food and Slow Money movements, which are effectively spreading the word about the social, economic and health benefits of buying close to home.
5. It's Cool to Care: Driven by passionate entrepreneurs who care as much (if not more) about creating positive change in the world as they do about making money, cause marketing is gaining ground. Food and beverage companies must take on a whole new approach to marketing and branding to win over consumers. By 2018, Whole Foods Market announced that all products sold in its U.S. and Canadian stores containing genetically modified ingredients must be labeled.
The NEXT Forecast features current U.S. sales and growth estimates for all natural and organic product categories, with projections into 2018, and discusses trends, opportunities and market leaders in natural and organic food and beverage, dietary supplements, beauty, household products and pet categories. The report bills itself as "the definitive guide to where the natural, organic and healthy products market is now and where it is headed."