Americans want healthier food, but love to indulge

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Feb. 4 - Americans are eating and snacking healthier, but they do love to indulge in sweet baked goods. They can’t live without their cookies, snack cakes, doughnuts, muffins and other sweet treats.  And most people like the regular versions over low or fat-free types.   Consumers generally eat sweet baked goods to indulge in a treat.  Increasingly however some are looking for healthier more nutritious indulgences, or “better for you” treats that taste good.  Simmons data shows that 54% of adults say they always try to eat healthy foods and maintain a balanced diet.  Conversely and indulgently, nearly 60% of adults say they eat foods they like regardless of calories.  Snacking has become the new way to eat for many and two-thirds of adults over the age of 18 (155 million people) agree a little or a lot that they often snack between meals. About 30% in 2015 say they usually only snack on healthy foods.  A third of adults pick salty snacks as their favorite while over 40% frequently eat sweets, according to Packaged Facts report Sweet Baked Goods: U.S. Market Trends.

Millennial parents march to their own tune

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Jan. 25 - As they have in so many other parts of their lives, Millennials are rewriting the rules about marriage.  When it comes to choosing marriage as a way of life, today’s 18- to 34-year-olds—especially women—differ markedly from their predecessors.  Millennial women are marrying later than ever before—or not at all.  Yet, the decline in the institution of marriage as a marker of what constitutes a family does not mean that Millennial women are foregoing having children.  What is different for Millennial women today compared to their predecessors in previous generations is that more than 40% of Millennial women giving birth are unmarried.  In 2014 nearly half of 25- to 29-year-old moms either had no spouse or partner or were cohabiting with a partner rather than living with a spouse.  This cultural shift has profoundly changed the environment for marketers of toys, baby foods and other packaged foods, household products, children’s clothing and the vast array of other products specifically required to raise children and generally maintain a family.

The non-traditional structure of Millennial families presents something of a minefield for marketers targeting today’s young parents.  As noted by an analyst with marketing consultant Frank N. Magid Associates, “There’s just no definition of a family anymore.  We’ve moved so far from your June Cleaver—the two kids and the wife and the husband and the white picket fence and dog” (, May 14, 2015).  This means that traditional images of a nuclear family in advertising campaigns may not resonate among Millennial moms because so many of them are raising their children on their own.  It also may seem to argue in favor of relatively conventional marketing approaches focusing on the clout wielded by moms in making purchases for their families.

Chipotle’s microbial quandary highlights industrywide food safety concerns

The following blog is based on current events and analysis featured in Consumers and Food Safety in the U.S.: Implications for Marketers, Retailers and Foodservice. Save 10% on the report with promo code PFSAVE10.

Jan. 13 - Last year, Chipotle Mexican Grill discovered a hard lesson: it’s all fun, games, and shrewd capitalism until customers fall victim to a foodborne illness. The scrutiny that has plagued the company following a series of E. coli outbreaks has tarnished the reputation of a chain long adored for its commitment to quality food sourcing.

Will E. coli prove to be the David destined to slay Chipotle’s Goliath? Unlikely, but at the very least the microbial menace appears to have knocked some of the wind out of the fast casual colossus.

Consumers don’t just want to eat fresh, they want to eat safe. Packaged Facts’ consumer survey data published in Consumers and Food Safety in the U.S.: Implications for Marketers, Retailers and Foodservice found that a slight majority (53%) of U.S. consumers say that their level of concern about food safety has stayed about the same in the past few years, but 46% of consumers say their level of concern has increased. Only 1% report it has decreased. For those Americans whose concern is on the uptick, the rationale is seemingly justified. In the past year alone, U.S. food and beverage companies recalled approximately 500 products for food safety and mislabeling issues.

What We’re Reading: Packaged Facts research highlights top trends driving pet industry in 2016

This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Pet Product News.

Jan. 12 - Packaged Facts, provider of market intelligence reports focused on consumer packaged goods, recently published data highlighting the top trends that drove the pet products and services market in 2015 and will continue to do so in 2016.

By 2019, the industry is expected to hit $91.72 billion in sales. In order to increase revenue, more and more retailers are taking advantage of specific trends to maximize potential opportunities in the market.

Findings from the comprehensive report, U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2015-2016 by Packaged Facts, explain the major trends that will affect pet product sales throughout 2016.

Doggone doggy breath be gone!

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Jan. 11 - For many pet owners, as much as they love their pets, there is nothing worse than a smelly “kiss” from a pet with bad breath. Unfortunately, breath odor can also signal a more serious underlying health condition—it is one of the main symptoms of periodontal disease, a serious condition that approximately 70% of cats and 80% of dogs develop by the time they’re three years old, according to the AVMA.

Packaged Facts’ all-new report Pet Oral Care Products and Services in the U.S. estimates retail sales of pet oral care products at $775 million in 2015, with pet oral care services bringing in an additional $3.8 billion. Forecasting product sales to grow to $975 million and services to $4.9 billion by 2020, this report covers the major trends impacting this market, as product marketers and veterinary services providers stress the importance of good oral care practices in a pet’s wellness regimen.


FDA seeks consumer input on “natural” food labeling

This blog is based on Packaged Facts' report Meat and Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trends and Opportunities. For a limited time save 10% at checkout with code PFSAVE10.

Jan. 5 - On Christmas Eve 2015 the Food and Drug Administration announced that it was extending the comment period on its request for consumer input on the subject of using the term natural on food labels. Back in early November 2015, the FDA first announced its request for comments to be submitted through February 10, 2016. The new deadline is May 10. The reason given for the extension is “the complexity of this issue” leading some consumers to ask for more time to formulate their thoughts. 

Consumers want and need clarity on the issue. A 2015 Packaged Facts online survey of 2,000 consumers found that about a third check packaging labeling for the word “natural.” Women and younger consumers (18-24 year olds) showed a higher than average tendency to seek out natural products. So, too, did households with young children.

Because they know increasing numbers of consumers are looking for that labeling information, food marketers want to use the word natural on labels as often as they can. There is commercial value attached to being able to label a product as natural that makes it too important a marketing term to forbid its use even on highly processed foods. 

See the happy chickens dance!

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Dec. 15 - It’s a pretty common to see chickens wandering around in the yards of the family farms that surround the town where I live in southern Maine. That image was on my mind when I read the news that McDonald’s is going to only use eggs from chickens that are kept in cage-free living environments. I wondered if others reading the news would picture thousands, perhaps millions of chickens out of their cages doing their happy chicken dance! Free at last, free at last! Thank you, MickeyD! Free at last!

Or not.

First, the numbers: Over the next 10 years, McDonald’s plans to “fully transition” to cage-free eggs for its nearly 16,000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. That comes out to be about two billion eggs per year for its U.S. units and another 120 million eggs served on its breakfast menus in Canada. McDonald’s USA actually started cage-free egg program in 2011 with some 13 million cage-free eggs purchased annually since then.

Holiday pet packaging: Red, white, and Christmassy all over

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Dec. 7 - Christmas is just around the corner, with all the decorations, toys, and holiday themed products already sprouting on the shelves. Of course, we cannot possibly forget to get gifts for all members of the family, and our surveys consistently show that pets certainly count as family members as well. This means many pet product marketers are adding to the Christmas spirit by providing an array of toys and treats in the red and green colors of Christmas, with many of the products only available during the holiday season.

Many marketers use the same packaging for their Christmas products as their usual products, simply changing the labels and graphics to add a festive touch. However, others go much further, developing entirely new packaging to evoke extra Christmas cheer and create some unique packaging in the process. 

A glimpse of what the future holds for marketers and retailers in 2020

The future of market research is now in the Packaged Facts report American Consumers in 2020. Learn all the essential insights to thrive in an ever-changing retail world. View the toc and abstract here.

Dec. 1 - Although the Great Recession officially ended five years ago, the American economy has failed to achieve the robust growth experienced in the aftermath of the economic downturns experienced in previous decades.  The overhang caused by unfettered lending to overleveraged consumers as well as the drag on recovery caused by the growing gap in American society between the handful of haves and masses of have-nots has proven to be too much for the economy to overcome.  As a result, according to Packaged Facts in the report American Consumers in 2020, U.S. marketers and retailers in 2020 will find themselves operating in an economy reflecting the “new normal” of modest growth forecast in 2015 by agencies such as the Federal Reserve and Congressional Budget Office.

Ebbing and flowing consumer confidence is a major wildcard in efforts to develop plausible economic forecasts and effective corporate strategies.  Data compiled by Packaged Facts August 2015 National Online Consumer Survey about consumer attitudes toward the future suggest that marketers and retailers may have some cause for optimism about how their own corporate futures will unfold.  For example, American consumers in 2015 have a less dystopian view of how the world of 2020 will look than might be expected given the harsh realities many have faced in recent years.  Looking ahead five years, only 24% think that their food supply will be less safe and just 34% believe that global warming will make life harder in five years.

Packaged Facts' holiday guide to the food gifting demographic

This blog is based on Food Gifting in the U.S., 4th Edition. For more insights from the report click here.

Nov. 17 -Behold the food gift, that wonderfully trendy present that combines two things people love: yummy morsels that tantalize the taste buds and the thrill of being the recipient of someone else’s thoughtfulness. On the strength of gift-giving centric occasions such as birthdays, Valentine’s Day and winter holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa), U.S. food gifting sales reached an estimated $21 billion in 2014, up 5%, according to Packaged Facts in the report Food Gifting in the U.S., 4th Edition. Resurgence by the American middle class after a period of post-recession adjustment also played a role in the market’s growth, and sales are projected to increase an additional 5% by the end of this year and again by 5% in 2016.

Undoubtedly, the recession had a very significant impact on historical sales trends, as the highly discretionary nature of food gifting became significantly affected by disposable income trends. But as consumers have fought their way out the recession, so, too has the food gifting industry. Of particular importance, are signs of growing food gifting strength among middle-income consumers, which bodes well for a market that has relied heavily on higher-income consumers to tow it through and out of the recession. If Middle America is ready to spend more on food gifts, the industry will see brighter days ahead.


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