Health outlook for food is stable, says report

By Lindsey Partos

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cent, Nutrition

The market for low-fat and reduced-sugar foods rose 6.7 per cent in value in 2007, moving up from a 4.7 per cent rise in 2006, claims a new report from UK market researcher Key Note.

But despite the growth, the researchers anticipate a slow down in the near future as consumers switch to all-encompassing products that are staked on a broader health platform.

"This is in large part due to the current trend of consumers being less interested in products sold on a slimming or diet platform and opting for those with wider health benefits,"​ say the report authors.

Health axis

This latest conclusion backs a swathe of indicators that predict the health axis will deliver stable, and significant growth, to the food makers' bottom line.

At this year's food exhibition SIAL, French trend tracking agency XTC, which compiled market data on trends and innovations in the food industry for the exhibition's popular innovation pavilion, said that in 2007 the health axis delivered the strongest progress.

Concepts with naturality values – notably organic certified – boosted the health axis. At the same time, products bearing functional 'medical' promises - antioxidant-rich, DHA-rich - also fed into this axis.

And there are clear signs that health may be spilling over, and merging into other trends. While data from XTC actually shows a drop from 25.8 per cent to 21.7 per cent, in health-positioned innovations from 2006 to 2007, there was a considerable rise in naturality, from 8.6 per cent to 11 per cent. Medical concepts also rose, from 12.1 per cent to 12.8 per cent.

The use of natural ingredients, such as grains and fruits, further contributed to health, with products boasting a double-positioning. The market has observed the merging of functional and natural, an example being a portion of fruit that delivers specific nutrients for the digestive system.

"Healthy functioning is natural functioning,"​ XTC said. "For example, an organic product can be enriched with vitamins or bifidus, or natural juices will label the antioxidants they contain."

Dairy on top

According to the Key Note report, dairy products took the lion's share of the UK's low-fat and reduced-sugar foods market, accounting for more than 70 per cent in 2007.

Other significant sectors include ready meals, bakery products, sauces and soups, and cereal products.

"The proportions of their respective total markets taken by low-fat or reduced-sugar variants differ significantly - milk, chocolate and malted hot beverages, salad accompaniments, crackers and crispbreads, and ambient desserts and custards all hold value shares of 35 per cent or more, but in other sectors these shares are much smaller,"​ wrote the report authors.

In terms of brands, the report underlines that "all the major food manufacturers and retailers" ​are involved in offering low-fat or reduced-sugar variants of their brands, in addition, they add that there are strong own-label sub-brand ranges from the grocery multiples.

Related topics: Reformulation, Market Trends

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