Five health & wellness trends transforming packaged food strategies

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Food makers are changing tact in response to health and wellness trends
Food makers are changing tact in response to health and wellness trends
As health and wellness and snacking trends emerge as leading influences in the packaged food industry, we explore how food manufacturers and brands can appeal to consumer needs in this competitive landscape.

Market research provider, Euromonitor International reveals that recent data demonstrates how global and European sales of packaged food have steadily risen.

In 2015, the global packaged food market stood at a retail value of $2,078,889.5 (€1,829,498.68). In 2018, this reached $2,349,504.7 (€2,067,649.94) and represented a 4.5% year- on-year (YOY) growth (2017-2018).

Packaged Food Sales in Europe

Euromonitor International Health and Wellness trends
Source: Euromonitor International Health and Wellness trends

If we look at Europe in specific detail, the story is somewhat different.

Both Western and Eastern Europe have witnessed increases in the retail value of packaged food between 2015 and 2018, Euromonitor reveals.

However, although Western Europe’s growth has slowed since 2017, it has seen YOY growth rise from 1.2% in 2015-2016 to 1.9% in 2016-2017 and 2.00% in 2017-2018.

In Eastern Europe, however, the YOY growth of packaged food has dropped from 5.6% in 2015-2016 to 5.4% in 2016-2017 and 5.0% in 2017-2018.

Health and Wellness Spurs Growth

In February 2019, the market research provider revealed its latest findings on competitor strategies in the packaged food environment.

Identifying health and wellness, snacking and sustainability as core trends driving the packaged food market, and in light of sales in recent years, we explore how food packaging brands are increasingly turning their attention to health and wellness.

According to market research provider, Euromonitor International, the international health and wellness packaged food industry hit $446 billion (€392.5 billion) in 2018, growing at 2.1% CAGR since 2012.

The segment grew faster than overall packaged food, which increased at a rate of 1.7%. Western Europe sits behind both North America — the largest market — and now Asia Pacific, which surpassed Western Europe in 2015.

Here are the top five health and wellness packaged food trends: 

#1: Free From Foods

As consumers opt for free-from products, the category has overtaken intolerance in terms of dynamic growth in the health and wellness arena.

Commenting on new data released from Euromonitor International in February 2019, John George, Project Manager Food & Nutrition at Euromonitor International stated how the “consumption of free from foods has moved beyond intolerances and allergies, being already valued at $56 billion (€49 billion) globally in 2018”​.

“Health-conscious consumers, those concerned about sustainability issues as well as the ones that enjoy the taste are driving growth of dairy alternatives, meat substitutes and gluten-free baked goods,”​ George went on to say.

#2: Organic Opportunities

Demand for safe and natural foods are impacting consumers’ purchasing decisions. While the US is the largest organic market by a significant amount, in Europe, increased growth opportunities are expected to come from France and Italy.

The new data indicates calls for “greater transparency in their food and drinks”​, and so consumers “are willing to pay a premium in order to support ethical responsibilities and human rights”.

As a result, “organic ranges fit into these trends and therefore are increasingly desired, estimated to grow by $24 billion (€21 billion) absolute growth by 2023 – these trends are more apparent in developed countries but emerging countries are following on the footsteps”,​ highlighted George.

#3: Fortified Foods

Emerging markets in the food packaging landscape are also developing strategies directed towards fortified/functional foods. While the Western world has seen a loss of traction, emerging markets can expect to see micronutrient fortification tackle malnutrition, resulting in increased growth looking ahead.

#4: Energy-Boosting Foods

Consumers are choosing packaged foods rich in energy to contribute to a holistic diet. In Europe, Slovakia is set to see the popularity of energy bars skyrocket. In addition, developed markets such as the UK will spearhead innovative products and continue to hold a competitive edge.

#5: Subscription Meal Kits

Targeting specific audiences with health and wellness subscription meal boxes is also on the up. In the coming years, the marketplace can expect to see innovation and brand differentiation to create opportunities for packaged food companies.

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