While perusing the grocery aisle – one of my favorite past times – I’ve noticed a trend that’s been emerging in the marketplace over the last several years. Growing up in the 80s and 90s (and yes, still growing up into the 00s), the abundance of brands screaming diet and weight loss claims at shoppers was overwhelming. Up until the more recent past, brands were making health claims by calling out what negative ingredients were not included on the ingredient panel or were included in limited amounts; an absence of negatives, if you will. Fat-free, low-sodium and low-calorie statements were prominently featured on front of pack, and when you were looking to make healthier food choices, you grabbed the bag, box or bottle that toted these claims.
There has been a healthful shift in the consumer mindset, causing people to pay closer attention to what they are putting in their bodies. While there are certainly small, more niche brands focusing solely on a more natural and organic approach, big brands are just starting to get smart, positioning their brands as being more health forward and catering to the health conscious consumer. These smaller brands have created an influx of competition, causing the big food brands to take a new approach to health, hoping to combat category-wide stagnant and even declining sales. Rather than focusing on the negatives, they’re focusing more on the positive – the presence of positives, to be exact. I distinctly remember my mother saying something in these regards to me as a child, so it makes you wonder why it has taken these big food brands so long to catch on to such a simple idea.
Now when you reach for most products on the shelf, replacing the fat-free claims of my reminiscent past are high protein, fiber and antioxidant claims; foods that may be higher in calories and fat, but contain well-known ingredients that promote a healthier lifestyle. Recognizing that consumers are getting wiser with their food choices, big brands are are accommodating to this shift in buyer behavior. Paul Norman, chief growth officer for Kellogg Co. was quoted in the April edition of Food Business News as saying, “We are on the journey from diet to wellness, from absence of negatives, less calories, to more bang for the calories.”
I’ve deemed this the Absence of Negatives, Presence of Positives Theorem. It’s going to be very exciting to see how this healthful mindset is going to continue to evolve on shelf and determine the future of the food and beverage industries as we know it. I know I’ll be watching…