Healthy trends are set to stay

The market for healthy options is continuing to grow. From food to drink to foodservice, the range and selection of healthier products seems to have expanded exponentially.

The definition of health food is continually evolving, according to Mintel, and it includes whole foods (seeds, nuts, grains), organic food and drink, meat-free food, special dietary food (free from gluten, lactose, sugar), slimming foods, sports nutritional products, vitamin and mineral supplements (VMS) and complementary medicines.

Mintel reports that the growing incidence of health problems such as obesity, asthma and diabetes is leading to a focus on healthy eating by government and consumers, and to pressure on manufacturers and retailers to improve the health qualities of processed foods.

FOOD

According to Heinz, health and wellbeing is a major issue facing today’s food industry, and consumers are increasingly aware of the positive nutrition benefits of the products they choose. As a result, there has been a real surge in demand for healthy options of well established and trusted products.

Heinz re-launched its Reduced Sugar Salt Baked Beanz in August with new packaging to prominently highlight the absence of artificial sweetners and a new recipe.

Nicky Cummerfield, brand manager of Heinz Baked Beanz, says: “Heinz has already taken progressive steps to significantly reduce levels of salt and sugar across its entire Baked Beanz range. However, Heinz Reduced Sugar Salt Baked Beanz offers particularly health conscious consumers an even lower level alternative and is the only product of this type that contains no artificial sweeteners.”

Heinz is also changing the recipe of its Spaghetti canned pasta for the first time in almost 80 years with the introduction of multigrain pasta. The multigrain pasta will be made from a blend of durum wheat, oatmeal, rye flour, maize flour and wheat bran.

Another contender in the healthy option range is rice, and Veetee has recently added three new rice varieties to its range, Premium Basmati, Goan Red Wild Rice and Brown Basmati.

According to Veetee, the ambient dry rice market is currently valued at pound;121m with a volume of 95,000 tones and 15.5 million UK households currently purchasing dry rice. Amit Gupta, head of marketing of Veetee, says: “The new range provides a more premium healthy offering for savvy consumers who are increasingly demanding greater choice and product diversity. With growth of 22.6% in the value of the wholegrain sector this offers a clear opportunity for retailers.”

Gupta comments that the wholesale sector is important to Veetee, and he wants to work with delivered wholesalers and cash and carries to help them stock the different products. Veetee has 25 different products and Gupta acknowledges that due to limited space wholesalers might only be able to stock six. So, he wants to help them choose the right range, to look at market trends and follow where the trends go.

Just as important as main meals is the area of snack foods, Rob Murray, marketing director of Ryvita, says: “The UK healthier snacking market is stable, reflecting consumers’ continued desire for a healthier option to every area of mainstream snacking products. Concerns over obesity remain highly publicised and as government guidelines call for clearer nutritional information on-pack, the interest in the nutritional values of food products is higher than ever.”

Ryvita’s product range has been increasing with the Ryvita Goodness Bars, Ryvita Crispbread, Ryvita Minis, Ryvita Rice and Corn Cakes and the new Ryvita Muesli Crunch.

Murray says: “As the Ryvita product range grows, so does the brand’s ability to create impact in-store and therefore encourage new users into the healthier snacking category.”

The Ryvita packs will feature the FSA recommended five GDAs (Guideline Daily Amounts), calories, sugar, fat, saturates, salt and fibre. The information will be displayed on the front of packs and will be supported on the back with a table showing GDAs and percentages for a typical adult.

Day Plus One, packer and supplier of organic and conventional dried foods, is making a move into the wholesale and cash and carry sector. Adrian Lauchlan, managing director of Day Plus One, says: “We are experiencing dramatic growth in all of our product lines, last year our turnover increased by 45%. People are becoming more and more health conscious. We have been supplying the healthfood market for over 20 years and now feel that it is the perfect time for us to supply the general wholesale market.”

Lauchlan comments that there is a rise in consumer awareness for ‘designer foods’. He says: “People are becoming more and more health conscious with seed mixes, gogi berries and wheat free muesli becoming popular. People are more interested in ‘Super foods’ such as gogi berries, and toasted natural snacks, organic and fairtrade products.”

Lauchlan says he wants to raise an awareness of Day Plus One with wholesalers and is keen to work closely with wholesalers and give them support.

DRINK

Alpro Soya says that the demand for naturally healthy and easy to make options has grown dramatically over the past five years.

John Allaway, commercial director of Alpro Soya, says: “Soya products are continuing to grow in popularity as more and more consumers switch onto the many health benefits. However, we know there is still great growth potential for this sector, and securing new customers is paramount to continued growth.”

Alpro Soya Light is the lightest ever soya milk and it has fewer calories than skimmed milk. It has added calcium and fibre and it is also enriched with vitamins C, E, B2, B6, B12 and folic acid.

Unilever UK Foods has also made a move into soya with the launch of Adez in May last year and it reports that the brand has already successfully impacted on the pound;1.6bn juice category. Adez is a health drink that blends both fruit and soya, it is fortified with vitamins and minerals, low in sugar and fat, contains no preservatives and despite being dairy free the non-GM soya content provides the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk.

Mike Knowland, Adez business manager of Unilever UK Foods, says: “Adez drinks are helping to make soya more accessible, everyday and mainstream and is driving the growth of the juice category. The launch of Adez was backed by a pound;12m investment, including heavyweight TV advertising and a sampling campaign. The brand targets the juice category as well as building on the current growth within the soya market.”

Another member of the Unilever drinks range is Vie Shots, a mini drink of fruit and vegetables. According to Unilever, 91% of mini health drinks were previously being consumed at breakfast, but Vie Shots broke this tradition as 70% of consumption is at lunchtime.

Chloe Irwin, Vie Shots business operations manager of Unilever UK Foods, says: “Vie Shots are a convenient one shot boost to your five-a day, their healthy content and convenience are an essential aspect for consumers and are the two main drivers behind the brand’s success.”

According to Danone, Actimel is Britain’s best selling probiotic dairy drink with in excess of 426 million bottles sold nationally per annum. Danone has added to this with Actimel Kids Packs in child friendly flavours. Andrew Curran, senior brand manager, says: “In the UK Actimel has a huge latent potential among families and we know that the biggest barrier to kids consumption is that many mums simply don’t appreciate that Actimel is suitable for their children.”

Danone has also re-launched its active health drink Danacol and re-positioned the brand as ‘heart healthy.’ Danacol now includes plant sterols that lower cholesterol and 200mg of Omega 3 per 100g bottle to help maintain a healthy heart.

Brand manager Pam Levin, says: “Adding 200mg of Omega 3 to Danacol is a technological breakthrough that enables us to make a valid ‘heart healthy’ claim and differentiate the brand from its competitors. Danacol is a superior heart healthy offering, it is the only active health drink to have two active ingredients with heart health benefits.”

FOODSERVICE

Tal Drori, brand marketer of Heinz Foodservice, says: “With customers becoming more health conscious, caterers need to offer them healthy options like soup from brands that consumers trust. Consumers rightly associate Heinz products with high quality ingredients, low salt levels and no nasties. Adding Heinz soup to the menu will encourage customers to choose soup when eating out of home, leading caterers to increase sales and profits.”

Heinz soups contain reduced salt levels with no ingredients that are linked to allergies such as MSG and celery spice. Heinz baked beans are also free from any artificial sweeteners or preservatives and Heinz offers a Reduced Sugar Salt variant with 30% less salt and 25% less sugar.

Another choice for the foodservice sector is rice. National foodservice account controller of Tilda, Mark Lyddy, says: “Consumers are actively seeking a healthy alternative when it comes to choosing meals out of home. People are thinking more carefully about the options available to them and they want to choose rice. Basmati rice is becoming increasingly popular as consumers are becoming more educated about its health benefits.”

According to Tilda, the Food Standards Agency recommends that a third of our daily intake should be from starchy carbohydrates, such as rice, with Basmati rice in particular having a medium GI rating. Rice contains no cholesterol, little sodium, B vitamins, and is suitable for those with gluten and wheat intolerances and is suited to vegetarian, vegan and multicultural diets.

Unilever Foodsolutions has been looking at what is inside its products, from how much sugar and fat it contains to whether colours and preservatives are used or common allergens like gluten or lactose might be present, to see what improvements can be made. It has also examined the outside of the pack, to make it easier for chefs to find key nutrition and allergen information and make informed choices about products.

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=== Buyer’s viewpoint ===

Healthy nbsp;could be seen as two key areas; healthier versions of everyday staples such as replacing traditional cooking oils and fats with the lighter olive oils and fat-free products and second, the more revolutionary move to whole new product groups such as those described as Super foods. Given the space constraints of most independents, innovation in the retail industry is likely to be patchy in 2007. Bestway has recently listed a limited range of ‘seeds’ to try to tap into the consumer demand driven by TV shows such as You Are What You Eat, but these ranges are the exception. Again, space constraints mean that fresh fruit and vegetables are not always present in the independent store. Can we address this, and do suppliers of canned fruit and vegetables do enough to confirm their status as perfectly acceptable as part of the Government’s Five-a-day scheme? Cash and carry will continue to reflect the more wide-scale changes in the market for staples. Cereal manufacturers will continue to move investment away from their sugary products and migrate support behind their whole-grain products, spreads will continue to move from jams to honeys and more and more brands will support re-launched favourites with lowered salt/sugar/fat campaigns.

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=== Buyer’s viewpoint ===

Landmark Wholesale has recognised that there is a shift in consumer attitudes and they are looking for the healthier alternatives to products out there. However, research has proven that consumers, while wanting a healthier option, do not want to compromise on taste and therefore the challenge to suppliers and retailers is to have an offering that meets each of the needs that the consumer is after.

At Landmark Wholesale we have adopted the same rationale behind our own brand ranges and therefore in a response to market movement on healthy options, 2007 will see the launch of a new no added sugar carbonates range in five varieties.

It has eye-catching packaging, plus the quality taste, and this is being pitched with a 59p PMP and a price reduction versus normal carbonates – so consumers, wholesalers and retailers can all win in the healthy options debate.

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