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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 trends report from the International Dairy.Deli.Bakery Association (IDDBA).
The majority of Americans are giving "a fair amount" or "a lot" of attention to these matters, the report noted, but attention doesn't necessarily translate into action, as consumers often compare product nutrition labels, only to choose the less healthful option because of taste differences or convenience of packaging and preparation.
Among the highlights of IDDBA's latest report, which details the ways in which the food industry is adapting to consumers' changing health priorities:
Portion control has become a priority for many people who want to lose or maintain weight, but a lack of understanding of what a serving constitutes sabotages their efforts.
Schemes for identifying portion size, such as "fist-sized," can be inaccurate and difficult to use. Most Americans aren't 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 www.myfoodphone.com 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.
Many retailers have devised their own labeling systems to flag products' nutritional qualities, including Hannaford Supermarkets' "Guiding Stars" system, which uses one, two or three stars to rank the nutritional value of over 27,000 items; and based Ukrop's, which employs "Wellness Keys" that are ideal for consumers on restricted diets, as unique labels identify products that are low in sodium, low in fat, gluten free, good for diabetes management, or vegan.
Madison, Wis.-based IDDBA's report also predicts that functional foods -- those that have ingredients that are medically beneficial, beyond their basic nutritional value - will grow about 10 percent annually in the United States.
Ingredients in highest demand will be CoQ10, glucosamine, probiotics, sterol esters, omega-3 fatty acids, and whey protein, said Don Montuori, Packaged Facts publisher. Consumers want products for heart health, stamina, digestion, appetite suppression, disease prevention, immune strengthening and mental agility.
"What's In Store 2008" details consumer and industry trends affecting the dairy case, cheese case, bakery, and deli/foodservice departments. Its 149 tables, developed in cooperation with leading industry firms and associations, include department sales, per capita consumption, consumer preferences, and random-weight, UPC, and private label sales data. The full report is available from IDDBA. The cost is $99 for IDDBA members and $399 for non-members, plus shipping and handling. Purchasers of the report also gain online access to quarterly random-weight sales data throughout the year.
For more information visit www.iddba.org.