Shopping for meat in all the right places

September 10 - “Free Range,” “Grass Fed,” “All Natural,” “Pasture Raised” – it all sounds so appealing how can any meat eater resist? And, in fact, plenty don’t. From all evidence, the market for beef, pork, lamb, bison, and venison raised in idyllic conditions is growing steadily. The USDA reports that meat (along with fish and poultry) has been the fastest growing component of the overall organic food market over the last decade. In addition, according to research from the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) the U.S. had an estimated 2.3 million acres of certified organic pasture and rangeland in 2012, up from just a half million acres in 2000.

As published in Branded Refrigerated Meats and Meals: U.S. Market Trends, Packaged Facts online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults (census representative on the primary demographic measures of gender, age, geographic region, race/ethnicity, presence of children in the household, and household income) conducted in April and May 2014 found that well over half of the respondents (57%) regularly buy more healthful meat items. Only about 10% said they did not. Further, almost the identical percentages apply, agreeing and disagreeing, to the statement “I Regularly Buy Higher-Quality Meat Items.”

The science and religion of nutritional supplements

September 4 - Discussion of the merits of nutritional supplements can be tricky, in the same way topics such as politics and religion are sometimes best avoided. That’s because you have two very polarized types of people when it comes to supplements: the “true believers” who believe that the supplements they take help to keep them healthy, and may have personally experienced positive results from taking specific supplements, and the “unfaithful,” who may point to studies that prove (to them) that vitamins and minerals are a waste of money at best or harmful to health at worst.  In between you have your “agnostics,” those who believe that supplements might do some good, but are generally not motivated to take much action or to incur much expense on the basis of that mild belief.

Luckily, it is at this point where the religion analogy starts to break down. After all, people are much more willing to try new supplements than to try a new religion. The key to real sales growth in the supplements industry is in that “agnostic” market, the same segment of the market that all the good and bad press surrounding nutritional supplements is more likely to sway one way or the other.

Ben & Jerry’s includes “everything but” GMOs, setting new standards and taking risks in U.S. ice cream industry

August 22 - For many Americans, Ben & Jerry's is synonymous with ice cream. Not only does the range of delectable flavor combinations appeal to consumers of all palate preferences, but many get a kick out of the often whimsical names given to the brand’s products, be they freezer aisle staples such as Cherry Garcia or limited edition flavors like the Liz Lemon frozen Greek yogurt named after Tina Fey’s iconic 30 Rock character.

Yet for all the clever marketing gambits, Ben & Jerry’s takes the responsibility of providing conscientiously crafted ice cream very seriously. In mid-2013, the company announced intentions to completely eliminate genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from its products over the next few years. The switch is ongoing with several notable ingredient adjustments already in place.

Despite the national debate over GMOs, Ben & Jerry’s non-GMO commitment is not without its risks.

The Neandrathal didn’t eat yogurt, but in the age of brogurt, today’s man does

How Greek yogurt has helped pave the way for a manly yogurt

August 13 - News that Dannon Yogurt, the U.S., New York-based subsidiary of Danone, signed a new marketing contract with the National Football League (NFL) as its official yogurt sponsor may have come as a surprise to many. Food Navigator U.S.A., a food industry trade publication (July 30, 2014), reported a deal for the 2015 season, following Super Bowl ads placed in 2012 and 2014. For yogurt-makers, ongoing ad placement in front of a male-centric sport (60% male viewership, according to Scarborough Sports Marketing), like American football, is something of a recent development in the U.S.

Deconstructing “Hispanic” food shoppers

August 11 - Spending by Hispanic consumers for food at grocery and other food stores has grown more than 80% over the past decade, more than twice the growth rate registered by consumers on average.  With the continuing dispersal of Latinos into areas not traditionally known for having substantial Hispanic populations, Hispanic food shoppers now represent a rapidly growing segment of the customer base of grocers throughout the country.

While Hispanic food shoppers offer a rich opportunity for food marketers and retailers, they also present a potentially bewildering set of challenges.  As highlighted by Packaged Facts Hispanic Food Shoppers in the U.S. (June 2014), the in-store behavior of Hispanic food shoppers is the product of a complex interplay among a wide range of factors.  These include their national heritage, the extent of their affiliation with their original culture and the language they speak at home.  In short, the most important lesson for marketers and retailers looking to learn about how individual Hispanic food shoppers fill their shopping carts is that there may be no such thing as a typical “Hispanic” food shopper.

Concern over added sugars reshapes the sugar and sweetener market

August 6 - Our love-hate relationship with sugar and sweeteners is intensifying as concern about added sugars mounts and negative consumer sentiment related to zero calorie sweeteners is slow to wane.  Sugar, especially white granulated sugar, is being compared to tobacco and cigarettes in terms of the serious danger it poses to health, even being called toxic by some public health advocates.  Sugar is considered a culprit when it comes to obesity, rising rates of diabetes and, more recently, it is implicated as a factor in heart disease.  

As an indication of just how serious the concern over added sugars has become, the FDA has proposed a revision to nutrition labels that will specifically highlight the added sugars content of foods and beverages.  Generally, consumers agree that Americans consume too much sugar.  A national online consumer survey conducted by Packaged Facts in April 2014 found that 72% showed top 2 box agreement with the statement, “kids eat too much sugar” while 66% agreed that “adults eat too much sugar.”

Zurich romances Kansas City

July 18 - In the chocolate market, as in life, you never know what you are going to get—as evidenced by the announcement of Zurich-based Lindt & Sprüngli that it will acquire Russell Stover. The acquisition will firmly establish Lindt as the number # 3 chocolate candy manufacturer in the U.S. market—still well behind Hershey and Mars, but now firmly ahead of Swiss rival and global food leader Nestlé.  This development has far-reaching implications for premium chocolate in the U.S. market, particularly in the seasonal and gift-box market segments.

The deal will combine one of the U.S. market’s best-known gift chocolate companies with a global player that has been working hard to grow its presence in the U.S. market, including through the acquisition of Ghirardelli. With the purchase of Russell Stover (which also owns the Whitman's and Pangburn's brand lines), Lindt will strike a new balance between Swiss import and made-in-the-USA—with Lindt pointedly stressing its commitment to maintaining Russell Stover’s headquarters in Kansas City and domestic manufacturing plants. 

Coffee companies go green to make green with eco-friendly maneuverings

July 16 - An increasing number of U.S. businesses are concerned with managing their ecological footprint, and in recent years this dedication to going green has trickled down to the U.S. coffee market.  In particular, to have a competitive foodservice coffee platform, being environmentally and socially responsible is increasingly important, according to Coffee and Ready-to-Drink Coffee in the U.S.: Retail and Foodservice, 8th Edition, a recent report by Packaged Facts. 

But beyond efforts swirling around the foodservice coffee segment, Packaged Facts predicts in Single-Cup Brew Beverage Products in the U.S.: Coffee Pods and Beyond that improved recyclability and sustainability will become ever more important to the success of the single-cup brew market—if not a cost of entry—as the business matures. 

Restaurants tap innovation in culinary development and marketing to drive protein on menus

July 9 - Consumers are looking for foods that provide health and wellness benefits and contain ingredients that address illness mitigation. Packaged Facts data from a January-February 2014 survey notes that 57% of consumers are looking for foods with nutrients that address health concerns. Among the nutrients consumers are keying in on is protein. Protein provides many benefits, including its support of weight management and proper growth, immune, heart and respiratory function.

Beyond the kale: American foodies seek exotic, elaborate, and upscale packaged salads

Foodies seek unique and exotic salads and fruit produce products.

June 25 - Consumers’ eagerness to experiment with new foods, flavors, and world cuisines — nearly half of consumers surveyed by Packaged Facts enjoy trying out new international foods — have led to increasingly exotic, elaborate, and upscale packaged salads from a number of different marketers.

Among the more unusual ingredients contained in new products are nutty quinoa, buckwheat soba noodles, black chia seeds, zesty crunchy pumpkin seed mix, wasabi arugula, and citrus herbs.

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