Yogurt makers hope to capture a little Disney magic

Jan. 22 - Chobani recently announced that it is expanding its product range to appeal to more consumers and eating occasions.  Central to the expansion is its new Chobani Kids and Chobani Tots lines, which will prominently feature Disney and Marvel characters on packaging.  Such efforts by Disney are an essential strategic maneuver to not only potentially boost present-day sales, but to also build a vital rapport with the next generation of consumers that will endure even as today’s kids grow to adulthood.

Winnie the Pooh graces the packaging of Chobani Tots, which comes in mango & spinach and banana & pumpkin flavors.  And Spider-Man powers Chobani Kids, coming in flavors such as grape and strawberry.  Additional characters including Doc McStuffins will debut on packaging in summer 2015, according to a Chobani press release.

Of course, Disney is not a novice when it comes to aligning its brand with yogurt partners, notes Packaged Facts in The Yogurt Market and Yogurt Innovation, 2nd Edition.

Why functional ingredients are among key food trends for 2015

Jan. 14 - Today’s consumers want and expect more than great taste and belly-filling from the foods and beverages they consume.  Ninety percent of Americans believe that certain foods offer health benefits beyond basic nutrition, according to research published in Packaged Facts’ Functional Foods: Key Trends & Developments in Ingredients.  Baby Boomers and Millennials are looking for products offering positive nutrition to help them optimize health and avoid chronic and, potentially, life-threatening illness.  A 2013 survey found that about one-third of consumers indicated using functional foods to replace some medicine in the context of their overall health approach. 

As a result of ingredient innovation, enhanced ingredient understanding and recent and proposed regulatory changes, functional food marketers are now able to target a wider range of consumers and their more diverse and pressing nutritional and health needs in 2015.  Some of the key nutrients and ingredients sure to be in the spotlight are protein, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, magnesium and microalgae. 

Necessity, improving economy drive spending in U.S. market for home organization products

Jan. 5 - Sales of home organization products in the U.S. were on a tear until the recession and housing crash ground growth to a halt.  In fact sales declined in 2008 and 2009 before beginning a recovery that continued through 2014.  In the report Home Organization in the U.S.: General Purpose, Closets, Garages, and Storage Sheds, 3rd Edition, Packaged Facts estimates that U.S. manufacturer’s sales of home organization products reached $8.5 billion in 2014.  The market grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.5% between 2010 and 2014 after growing at less than a 1% CAGR between 2006 and 2010.  The economic recovery, while slow and uneven, has propelled sales growth.  Pent up demand for garage and closet organization products as well as sheds and general storage products has further helped drive sales increases over the last several years. 

Challenging economic times have made consumers very cautious about spending on all purchases, especially those deemed discretionary.     But newly frugal Americans still have plenty of stuff to store and organize so demand exists and is growing for products that make life more organized, efficient, and less stressful.   The market is expected to continue on a recovery path and perform better than many other household product categories.   

Will aging Boomers hang on to their pets?

Dec. 31 - More than 200 million pets of all kinds enliven 65 million American households.  Dogs and cats in particular have kept their special place in American culture.  The vast majority of dog and cat owners consider their pets to be members of the family, and most owners think of their dogs or cats as being vital to their mental and physical health. 

Yet, while Americans’ love affair with their pets continues unabated, storm clouds may be brewing on the horizon for the pet industry.  As noted in Packaged Facts November 2014 report Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S., between 2009 and 2014 pet ownership as a whole has leveled off and ownership of most types of pets has declined, in some cases significantly.  The question for the pet industry is whether it will be possible to reverse these trends or whether it will be necessary to make strategic adjustments to take into account a shrinking population of pet owners.

Move over hot dogs and pretzels, the new wave of American street and grill foods reflect an international culinary experience

Dec. 5 - It wasn’t that long ago when street foods would too often bring to mind, for many American, ambivalent associations with foreign and “underdeveloped” countries, along with trepidations about cooking hygiene and food safety. 

Sure, nothing could be more American than street, fair, and festival foods such as pizza, hot dogs and corn dogs, soft  pretzels, ice cream and snow cones and cotton candy.  And there was even occasion for more pronouncedly ethnic or regional options.  Ordinarily speaking, nonetheless, street foods tended to be seen as make-shift meals for laborers who could not attain to sit-down dining.

The pendulum has swung very far in the other direction, with fresh, local, distinctive, and mouthwateringly good now being the primary associations for street food with fashionable consumers, and especially urban and millennial hipsters, according to Packaged Facts’ Street and Grill Foods: Culinary Trend Mapping Report

A new era for human-grade pet foods

Dec. 1 - You and your pet, sharing food? Yep. And we’re not talking about table scraps. The Yaff Bar energy bar is specifically designed to be shared between pets and their humans, boasting such tempting ingredients as Blueberries, puffed rice and “a touch of carob.”

In the natural, organic and eco-friendly pet food market, the “humanization” of pet products has grown to epic proportions, with human-grade foods perhaps representing the peak, according to a recent Packaged Facts pet report. At the forefront of this trend is The Honest Kitchen, which in 2014 went through the lengthy process of renewing its FDA approval for the use of the “human-grade” claim on all of its pet food labels. The process required The Honest Kitchen to provide detailed documentation from each of its suppliers attesting to the human-edible status of each ingredient, and to verify that all of its products are manufactured in a human food facility.

Online grocery services: Ready to rocket to over $100 Billion?

Nov. 12 - For more than a decade, the notorious failure of Webvan scared many potential entrants away from the online grocery business. Now, the field is swiftly becoming crowded with trials by competitors and new operating models, with online grocery services apparently poised to take off on a high growth trajectory, according to Online Food Shopping and Grocery Delivery in the U.S.: Future of Food Retailing by Packaged Facts.

Meeting at the crossroads of technology and service, online grocery shopping is one of the smallest retail segments for food and beverage sales, representing less than 4% of total retail sales of foods and beverages. Yet, it offers the grocery industry’s most exciting potential as the fastest growing channel in the grocery arena, with annual growth rates in the double digits.

Human/animal bond … in theaters everywhere as art imitates life

Nov. 3 - This week, animal lovers and kids of all ages will be treated to a new six-minute short entitled Feast from Disney Animation.  The story debuts on November 7, 2014 with the release of the company’s new film Big Hero 6.  The short features a Boston terrier named Winston.  A blog post on Disney’s website describes the film as follows:  “Feast is the story of a newly adopted dog named Winston who bonds with his owner through a series of delicious meals—or at least the scraps thereof, delivered to his dog bowl, and sometimes onto the floor.” 

Pet food marketers have long known about this human/animal bond.  Some recent marketing initiatives have placed extra focus on it, according to Pet Food in the U.S., 11th Edition.

Annie’s GMO conundrum

Oct. 8 – Last month, cereal king General Mills Inc. (GM) announced it was acquiring Annie’s Homegrown Inc. for approximately $820 million. Known for its macaroni and cheese and its bunny logo, Annie’s is a well-known natural and organic food producer, and very much conveys the feeling of a small environmentally-oriented company even with $204 million in sales reported for fiscal year 2013, according to Natural and Organic Foods and Beverages in Canada by Packaged Facts.

There have been the usual derogatory cries from avid Annie’s lovers saying the deal is nothing less than Annie’s selling out to a major corporation, a situation that occurs every time a corporate giant acquires a smaller, more environmentally focused company. However, there is one aspect of this negative response that is going to get more press down the road—the respective company’s stances on genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food products. For many of the current (and vocal) Annie’s customers, this is seen as nothing less than Annie’s selling out on an extremely important problem.

A new era for dieters

September 25 - Recent research suggests that the upward trend in obesity that has vexed public health officials for decades may have leveled out, while the healthy eating movement remains on the upswing.  Still, nearly 100 million Americans are watching their diet to lose weight or to maintain their current weight.  Successful weight management remains a tough and never-ending battle for many Americans trying to stay on a traditional diet plan.  The majority of overweight Americans find that the very idea of a strict diet poses an obstacle to their weight loss desires.  Most agree that they would like to lose weight but assert that they find it too hard to stick to a strict diet plan or eating strategy.  Moreover, dieters trying to stick to their current diet plan or eating strategy face challenges from all sides, especially from the temptation posed by foods they crave but aren’t supposed to eat.  As a result, a majority of those on a diet plan have been on it for less than nine months.

Yet, although traditional views of dieting remain an important part of American culture, there are significant changes now underway in the way Americans think about their weight and what to do about it.  An August 2014 Packaged Facts report (Weight Management: U.S. Consumer Mindsets) takes an in-depth look at the transformation that is now underway in the culture of weight management in America. 

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