- As consumers continue to evolve their perceptions and attitudes toward health and wellness, food trends continue to follow. Rather than consumers keeping up with the latest diet fads, the latest installment of food trends plays off of consumers’ desire to return to eating simply real, whole foods. This desire for unadulterated, natural foods has influenced the way consumers are thinking about an unlikely beacon of clean, healthy eating: fat.
- With evidence surfacing of the fact that the fat-free, faux sugar craze ultimately made people sicker, there has been a backlash to the ‘diet’, ‘lo-cal’ lifestyle. Today’s consumers, especially Gen X and Millennials, are moving away from trans-fat-loaded, hydrogenated and processed products such as margarine and going back to the basics with things like real butter. According to the USDA, consumption of butter in America has hit a 40-year high. Interestingly, milk has also seen a shift in customer purchasing habits with an increase in whole milk sales.
- The spikes in sales can in part be attributed to not just consumer movement to return to real foods but also growing scientific evidence that supports the notion that there is no strong link between saturated fat and increased risk of heart disease. This is driving home cooks to embrace grass-fed butter and to dabble in lard again, while beauty mavens and vegans alike start to discover the many uses and benefits of coconut oil, among others. An increasingly popular breakfast item has also seen a spike as of late –avocado toast – as consumers want to start their day with a boost of monounsaturated fat.
- The marketing of foods as “low calorie” or “sugar-free” has found success in the health food market in years past, however, now that consumers are shifting to an emphasis on ‘real’, a change in the marketing of foods is soon to follow. Dieters are sick of foods that provide only fleeting satisfaction and seem to make them hungrier. The new thinking is that eating foods with more protein or fat keeps will make dieters less likely to binge later, even if they’re higher in calories.
- Further evidence of this is the fact that while for many years the sales of sodas have been on the decline, diet soda still stood strong. This has now shifted, and store sales of zero- and low-calorie soda have now plunged 6.8% in dollar terms in the 52 weeks through Nov. 23, 2013. Additionally, other ‘diet’ foods have taken a hit, such as Special K cereal’s, with sales down 7% in the past two years, and Nestle’s Lean Cuisine with a 27% drop in sales in the past four years.
- With fats being back in action and consumers being more careful about the origin of their food, producers should feel the necessity to clearly label these facts. However, the healthy consumer often sees through packaging claims such as “all natural” and “made with whole grains” and instead, look at the nutritional panel and ingredients list. Products that are transparent and inherently natural with begin to take rein.