According to a Leatherhead report, which looks into the big trends set for 2014, consumers associate talk of dieting with failed weight loss attempts. Companies are responding to this by marking products as more mainstream, ‘healthy’ choices, the report claims.
Coupled with this health and wellness trend is the ongoing development of sweetener alternatives. Emma Gubisch, Leatherhead’s strategic insight manager, told Food Navigator that more can be done to promote natural sugar alternatives like stevia, which still remains relatively unknown outside of the industry.
Coupled with this is the media’s investigation into the science behind different diets and the consequent dismissal of some as fads. She said that as a result consumers are increasingly looking for more balanced approaches to weight loss and management.
“People are shying away from talking about dieting. It’s much more about health and wellness in this holistic sense. I think ‘diet’ has become a bit like a dirty word with all these programmes which talk about how dieting doesn’t necessarily work,” she said.
She said that as a result companies are moving away from diet products that sit in a single, side-lined aisle of a supermarket to more mainstream ‘healthy products’. Products are being repositioned in a more positive context as food to be enjoyed in day-to-day life rather than dreaded.
A stevia education
As part of this trend towards healthy products, she said that stevia continued to present a good, natural alternative to sugar while regulation and formulation kinks remained.
“We’re really seeing it with natural sweeteners like stevia. We’ve just produced a report about intense sweeteners and forecast that stevia is going to take the biggest share of the market by 2017,” she said.
Gubisch said that despite this progress, more could be done by manufacturers to communicate the facts surrounding stevia to consumers who remain relatively unaware of this ingredient, which will be appearing increasingly on pack.
“It’s always tricky how you communicate these things to consumers. Manufacturers don’t tend to do educational campaigns about that sort of thing. There needs to be a bit of information around that so people really do understand the difference,” she said.