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Cashing In on the Natural Foods Trend

By: STCR Staff 

An increasing number of Americans are embracing whole, unprocessed foods, and for good reason. Studies show that about 61 percent of adults’ diets in the United States are comprised of processed foods, even though these foods are proven to contribute to obesity, high blood pressure and other health risks. While quick and processed meals may be convenient, many people are unhappy with the detrimental effects that processed foods have on their health and are making concerted efforts to change their habits. According to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s annual Food and Health Survey, a growing number of 2019 survey respondents reported that they consciously tried to follow a specific diet in the past year, with clean eating and gluten-free or low-carb diets cited as the most popular.

Grocers nationwide are responding to this trend by offering a greater amount of natural and organic products, which has resulted in considerable profit. Products that were once hard to find and only available in farmers’ markets or health food stores are now stocked in more traditional retail stores, which is resulting in greater brand awareness and demand from a wider consumer base. According to an industry report from data firm SPINS, natural products accounted for 9.1 percent of total dollar volume for food and beverage categories for conventional retailers, and accounted for 27.4 percent of their growth in the past year. In order to hop on the natural bandwagon, grocers should be aware of the types of products that are gaining traction and cultivating demand.

Plant-Based Products

From veganism to vegetarianism and everything in between, more consumers are realizing that incorporating plant-based food into their diets is crucial to maintaining a healthy balance of calories and carb intake. Products that put their plant-based ingredients front and center are having a moment, like cauliflower rice and pizza, veggie burgers and nut- and plant-derived dairy products. While products like cashew cheese and oat milk were once delegated to the vegans of the world, now people with more diverse diets are gravitating toward these alternatives for health reasons.

Frozen/Refrigerated

This may seem counterintuitive, as American frozen food sections are traditionally thought of as cheap meals laden with preservatives and chemicals. However, this category has expanded as freezing natural foods is an effective way to preserve the freshness while still maintaining a quality product by the time it reaches stores. Additionally, frozen healthy meals are have emerged as a stepping stone for those who are just beginning to swap out their processed picks for healthier ones. A busy weeknight grocery shopper who might usually pick a frozen pizza for dinner may be more motivated to grab a healthier option if it’s available nearby – and will pay the premium for it.

Sparkling Beverages

Seltzer is replacing sodas in refrigerators nationwide: Americans are drinking nearly 170 million gallons of seltzer each year, according to NPR. The wide variety of flavors and the carbonation make it a satisfying alternative to soda, which more consumers are shunning due to its excessive sugar and artificial flavor content. This trend has extended to a wide variety of sparkling beverages, like sparkling iced teas and kombuchas, sparkling coconut waters and even non-alcoholic seltzer mocktails. The more creative the flavors, the more compelling the novelty aspect of the product is.

CBD and Hemp

As the population at large begins to understand the health benefits of hemp and CBD, the non-psychoactive property of the hemp plant, a boom has occurred in the grocery industry. A growing number of people are using CBD to relieve stress, anxiety, pain and inflammation and insomnia, among other ailments, and are looking for convenient and tasty ways to get their daily dose. Beverages seem to be the most popular CBD consumables, with CBD coffee, matcha and kombucha becoming more readily available. Hemp products don’t stop at beverages, with unique choices like hem sprouted bread, hemp granola and even hemp cakes entering the market. 

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