Who says? James King, for one.
James King, customer development controller for Danone, says: “While historically 'healthy eating' has meant eating products with reduced levels of fat or sugar, we are seeing a slow shift away from this rather simplistic approach.
“Consumers are becoming more discerning around 'good' fats and 'bad' fats, and even 'good' and 'bad' sugars.
“They are also looking more to wholesome and natural foods, hence the continued growth of bottled water in contrast to carbonates, continued growth in organic foods, and the recent resurgence in fruit, spurred on by the 5-a-day campaign.” King continues: “Meanwhile, consumers are increasingly open to products that offer functional benefits such as digestive support or cholesterol reduction.
“The rise of 'superfoods' and 'superfruits', natural foods that purport to above-average health benefits, could be seen as a combination of these trends.”
The quote comes from a length article by Sheetal Mehta at TalkingRetail.com. The article talks about the many ways that foods targeted at specific audiences have appeal beyond those core audiences because they may be, or may be perceived as, healthier than regular foods.
Soy, soya in the UK, is an example:
Alpro, for example, recently launched the first ever chilled organic soya milk with Soil Association approval, and this followed the launch in 2006 of dairy-free probiotic soya yogurt.
John Allaway, Alpro commercial director, says: “In terms of soya, over recent years, the consumer profile has changed considerably, as well-being and healthy eating become increasingly significant to consumers, and substantial positive research about the benefits of including soya in our diet continues to be published.
“As a result, soya products are no longer just used as a dairy replacement by vegans, vegetarians and lactose intolerant consumers – they are now consumed alongside dairy products because of their health benefits.”
Yogurt has historically carried this distinction as a healthy food with value for all.
At Müller, new product development manager, Chris McDonough, says: “Our npd programme is much more about getting back to basics and focusing on the wholesome nutritional values intrinsic in yogurt itself rather than pursuing an overtly scientific route. In fact, our research shows that there is increasing scepticism and confusion surrounding food science claims, which is leading to a lack of credibility amongst consumers.
“We're moving in a 'more is less' direction, with the emphasis being placed on natural ingredients with added value functionality derived from the dairy product itself. This is embodied in our recent new product developments such as Müller One A Day yogurt and yogurt drinks, on which the packaging clearly states that each serving contains one fruit portion.”
Similarly, David Rapkins, sales director at Fage UK, the company behind the Total Greek yogurt brand, says: “Products that are pure and natural have seen an increase in popularity as health-conscious consumers switch to brands which contain no artificial ingredients or added sugars. There is a growing band of shoppers who are trying to avoid such additives which are often perceived to be potentially detrimental to health.”
And new styles of healthy eating are gaining popularity from the knowledge that diets don't work because people don't like to deprive themselves. Instead they should learn to alter their entire food preferences toward healthier eating, even if that means rewarding themselves once in a while. Bernard Matthews' marketing director, Matt Pullen argues that:
'Doing the right thing' is perceived as 'healthier', even if only indirectly, than just buying whatever is cheapest or most convenient. The widely reported debit/credit lifestyle which seeks to balance 'health' and 'indulgence' squares with this need for well-being rather than purely health: to be healthy we need to be happy, and the occasional indulgence has a role to play.
Fascinating article about a change in attitudes that is healthy in every sense.