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A recent analysis from Symphony Consulting, a division of Chicago-based SymphonyIRI Group Inc., has found that claim sales for “better for you” and “dietary restriction” led among five macro health claim categories, accounting for 36 percent and 33 percent of total health claim sales, respectively. The findings appeared in SymphonyIRI’s Food and Beverage Health Claims TrendSpotting report, which groups 30 health claim classifications into five macro categories.
The report is part of SymphonyIRI’s Executive Briefings series, a continuing look at important trends in food and beverage and nonfood and beverage markets. The TrendSpotting report examined shopper demand for products claiming healthy attributes, and analyzed key trends across five macro food and beverage categories to identify areas with the highest growth and biggest potential for future expansion.
“As Americans age, they are turning increasingly to healthier foods as part of a more comprehensive approach to managing their wellness,” noted Symphony Consulting Managing Director Dr. Krishnakumar “KK” Davey. “In addition, recent government actions, such as New York City’s ban on trans fats in restaurant cooking and Los Angeles’ ‘Meatless Mondays’ campaign, continue to elevate consumers’ interest in health claims. Further, food science advances are enabling manufacturers to develop foods and beverages with healthier attributes.”
TrendSpotting’s other three macro claims categories were condition-specific, natural, and energy. As well as the first two categories, which together accounted for a total of 69 percent of claims sales, the report revealed that the energy category has grown the most rapidly during the past year, at an 8 percent annual rate. The category has traditionally centered on energy drinks, but today’s shoppers are also increasingly seeking sustained energy benefits through better diets.
The report also looked at demographic differences in the demand for products bearing health claims, as older consumer groups are more often attracted to health claims within the food and beverage industry. During 2012 year to date, older baby boomers (born 1946-1955) contributed to 24 percent of total claim sales growth, even though they account for only 20 percent of dollar sales. Generation X and Y shoppers also represented a high-value opportunity for manufacturers; they provided 23 percent and 27 percent, respectively, to claims sales growth, while accounting for a respective 20 percent and 25 percent of dollar sales.
The different groups had varying health interests, however. Baby boomers gravitated more to condition-specific claims, while Gen X and Y shoppers focused on using food for functional purposes, such as energy and exercise enhancement. Women tended to be more interested in looking for products with health claims.
Further, the TrendSpotting report examined claims trends across five food and beverage macro categories: macro snacks, breakfast foods, refrigerated/frozen (RFZ) cooking ingredients, ready-to-eat (RTE) meals and liquid refreshment beverages (LRBs).
Macro snacks (salty snacks, yogurt and snack bars, etc.) and RFZ cooking ingredients (butter, frozen potatoes/onions and fresh eggs) accounted for the biggest dollar sales growth during the last 52 weeks when compared with all food and beverage categories, at 6.5 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively. This compared with an average growth rate within food and beverages of 4.6 percent.
Within macro snacks, better for you and dietary restriction were the top claims driving sales, with better for you making up 37 percent of snack claim sales and dietary restriction at 35 percent. The report additionally cited SymphonyIRI’s 2012 Annual Consumer Snacking Survey, noting that 43 percent of respondents to that survey said they snack three to four times daily, up from 24 percent in 2009, and that 87 percent are trying to eat more healthfully.
Similarly, the two top claims spurring sales within RFZ cooking ingredients were better for you and dietary restriction, accounting for 36 percent and 31 percent of claims sales, respectively. The TrendSpotting report forecasted that the RFZ cooking ingredients category was apt to see growth in the better-for-you and condition-specific claims segments.
The report also asked manufacturer decision 10 strategic questions about their organizations’ health claims, raising such issues as appropriate levels of investment in food science, brand coordination to capture different age groups, and collaborating with retailers to improve consumers’ understanding of health claims.
“While manufacturers have developed foods and beverages with healthier attributes, perhaps the biggest obstacle they now face is consumer awareness,” observed Symphony Consulting Partner Jamil Satchu. “At best, consumers lack understanding, and given the complexity of some health claims, that’s understandable. At worst, they are skeptical of many health claims, particularly newer ones. But time and information can overcome this obstacle. Educating consumers about such claims as prebiotic and gluten-free will be critical to manufacturers’ and retailers’ success in this area.”