Fad or Fundamental? What’s Next for Health & Wellness in 2018

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Finding total store growth has been a challenge over the last year. Despite this challenge, pockets of growth do still exist across the store, and many are being driven by consumers’ desire to live healthier lives and choose better-for-you foods and beverages over conventional products.

In fact, 67% of Americans said they will be prioritizing healthy or socially conscious food purchases in 2018, according to a recent survey by Label Insight, a strategic Nielsen partner that specializes in ingredient and attribute data analysis.

67% of Americans say they will be prioritizing healthy or socially conscious food purchases in 2018

When it comes to product ingredients, 68% of U.S. consumers say they’re concerned with what’s not in their food. Products that are “free from” certain undesirable ingredients are redefining departments and categories across the store, including dairy, grocery, dog food, and various non-food categories.

But the exclusion of undesirable ingredients isn’t the only factor that’s shifting the health and wellness landscape. It’s important that manufacturers and retailers look beyond healthy “fads” and truly align with the fundamentals below, which continue to reshape and redefine the U.S. FMCG landscape.

Fresh as an Influencer

While the fresh department has continued to increase dollar sales despite overall total store challenges, certain packaged food and beverage products sold in the center of the store have capitalized on the drivers of perimeter growth. For example, sales of products containing cauliflower as an ingredient grew 71% in dollars in the last year, while products with kale and cranberries have also experienced positive dollar growth (13% and 9%, respectively). And it doesn’t end with edibles: shampoos and conditioners containing strawberries as an ingredient grew 107% in the last year.

Functional Consumables

Consumers are increasingly turning to food as medicine, leveraging the health benefits that certain ingredients bring to the table. Beverages, for example, is one category that is a great entry point to functionality. Functional ingredients like “excellent source of protein,” “cold pressed,” and “probiotic” are driving significant growth in the beverage category.
Beverages as Entry Points

Protein Powerhouse and Plant-Based Options

Americans are hungry for protein, whether it’s meat or plant-based. Seven percent of households follow a high protein data. According to a Nielsen protein survey in 2017, 78% of consumers said that meat is a primary source of protein, with 58% saying dairy is their preferred source. Nevertheless, sales of plant-based options are growing across the store, with 20.7% dollar growth in frozen prepared foods that are plant-based, 18.9% dollar growth for fully cooked plant-based meats and 14.1% dollar growth for plant-based diet and nutrition products.

Close Watch on Sugar

One ingredient consumers are keeping a close eye on with respect to how much they consume is sugar. Across the U.S., 22% of Americans say they’re already taking matters into their own hands by restricting their sugar intake, and one-in-two Americans are planning to eat less sugar or buy “no sugar added” products this year, according to a survey by Label Insight. And at the shelf, how products are sweetened matters. Notably, sales of products that contain non-caloric sweeteners and are free from artificial sweeteners grew 16% in dollars in the last year.

How Sweet?

These fundamentals should remain top of mind for FMCG manufacturers and retailers throughout 2018 and beyond. And if you quantify the impact of health & wellness fads as they emerge from these fundamentals, you can plan with more efficiency to capitalize on the ones that make sense for your business.

Insights from this article were derived from:

Nielsen Retail Measurement Services, All Outlets Combined including Convenience, Total U.S., 52 weeks ended Dec. 30, 2017
Nielsen Product Insider, powered by Label Insight, 52 weeks ended Dec. 30, 2017

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