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Naturally healthy food trend marches on while ‘better for you’ struggles

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‘Naturally healthy’ is the food category set to be the real winner in 2016 and beyond, predicts Euromonitor International.

Euromonitor values naturally healthy – as opposed to fortified or highly refined – foods at €251 billion, making it the largest health and wellness category. With its ‘clean label’ appeal it is showing exceptional growth dynamism, with potential to add a further €63 billion (at retail value) by 2020.

Fortified/functional food remains at major force in its own right at €16 billion and is also showing healthy growth – spurred by continuing interest in extra protein and energy and a widening consumer base.

Gluten-free is continuing to take the world by storm, says Euromonitor. While sales of bread and pasta continue to fall globally, gluten-free versions are making impressive gains. Gluten-free bread, worth €924 million globally, grew 9.6% in 2015, while gluten-free cake sales were up 14%.

Organic food and drink sales, worth €31.4 billion globally, grew 4.5% in 2015. A number of countries in Western Europe however saw double-digit growth, which Euromonitor attributes to the perception of organic being in sync with the broader natural and clean trend.

By contrast, the better for you (BFY) category – food and drink products with reduced sugar, salt, fat and carbs – is shown to be struggling and saw an overall drop in sales of 1%. Euromonitor suggests a combination of factors is responsible. The clean label trend is clearly flexing its muscles. But there is also increasing consumer awareness of negative nutritional effects of doctoring food ingredients – removing or reducing an one undesirable ingredient often means replacing it with another, or substituting a natural ingredient one with an artificial one. This, Euromonitor suggests, explains why the reduced sugar breakfast cereals category halved in value in 2015 – the year that sugar awareness surged to new levels.

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