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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Consumer packaged goods manufacturers are responding in a major way to an increasingly obese and more health-conscious nation, according to new survey data released here by the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
Virtually all of the 43 companies surveyed on behalf of GMA said they are enhancing nutritional choices, while 86 percent of 42 companies said they have introduced or reformulated products and sizes. GMA said its survey sample represented about $250 billion in annual U.S. sales, or approximately half of the U.S. food and beverage
Respondents to GMA's survey said they have introduced nutritional improvements in a total of about 4,500 products and sizes since 2002. These average about 30 percent of food and beverage SKUs in the average supermarket. The major changes include saturated fat and trans fat, which have been reduced or eliminated in about 3,000 products and sizes; calorie reduction in 969 products and sizes; sugar and carbohydrate reduction in 903 products and sizes; and vitamin and mineral fortification in 533 products and sizes. Sodium has been reduced in about 376 products and sizes.
Suppliers are also reducing portion sizes of many products. About half of those surveyed have changed multi-serve packaging or are in the process, while 55 percent have changed single-serve packaging or are in the process. Fifty-six percent have created sizes for kids or are planning to.
The majority of companies surveyed are marketing or planning to market their improved products to get the message out to consumers. Ninety percent of them are conducting and planning healthy lifestyle promotions; 81 percent are putting together customer health promotions in communities; and 74 percent are partnering with public health organizations.
Meanwhile, suppliers are getting the message across on their labels. Eighty-three percent of them have already enhanced label information on a total of 2,749 products.
Finally, look out for MyPyramid promotions. Seventy-three percent of companies surveyed said they're planning to use the government's recently revised healthy eating tool to promote a healthy lifestyle message.