Consumers Demand, Food Industry Responds Positively

FullSizeRenderFrom the aging Baby Boomer who wants to make healthier decisions in the second half of their life to the Millennial who eats out a lot and places a high priority on healthy, sustainability and convenience, there is no shortage in demand for healthier food options that taste great. The food industry from beginning to end is responding positively. Change is happening at every stage from the farmer to the manufacturers to grocery stores and even at the drive through window.  Fresh, natural and recognizable ingredients are the buzzwords that cause pocket books to open. Here are a few of the plate improving highlights coming your way.

Target     Target understands that its largest consumer, the Millennia’s are environmentally concerned demanding less packaged and nutritionally savvy demanding less processed. They’re responding by reformatting aisles to include more organic, natural (a yet to be regulated term) and gluten-free. Target plans to focus on Greek yogurt, granola, fresh meat and produce, coffee and craft beer. Their Simply Balanced signature line is selling well and they have a goal to offer 25 percent organic foods and beverages by 2017. Jessica Alba’s Honest Company launched at Target in the summer of 2014, an assortment of non-toxic, eco-friendly household cleaning, skin and baby products.

McDonald’s      McDonald’s recently announced that within two years, all of the chicken served in its restaurants would be free of antibiotics used in humans. They will only source chicken raised with ionophores, a type of antibiotic not used for humans that keeps chickens healthy. Later on this year, McDonald’s plans to switch to low-fat white and chocolate milk from cows not treated with rbST, an artificial growth hormone. The overuse of antibiotics in the food service industry has long been criticized as contributing to our antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. What other recipe remixes does the golden arches have on it’s menu for change? In Europe, Mr. Easterbrook, the new CEO reduced the sodium in the fries in addition to bringing in organic milk. Perhaps he will duplicate the Brits efforts and reducing the number of ingredients used in United States French fry recipes from the current 19 down to Britain’s few five. It has also been suggested that kale will be added to salads, smoothies or both in the near future.

Panera     Panera has used antibiotic free chicken for 10 years and in 2014 its turkey met the same standard. In early 2015 all of its pork supply will also be antibiotic free, in addition to being fed a vegetarian diet and no pregnant sow will be crated. Thank goodness, because I can’t imagine being pregnant and crated! In 2014, 80 percent of its beef was grass-fed and it’s making progress on serving more cage-free eggs. Panera’s menu offerings have long included healthier kid options, organic milk and half portions balanced with soup, salad or fruit.

Costco     Costco is also phasing out all antibiotics important to human medicine from its meat. They are the second largest retailer so this move combined with McDonalds and the existing Panera and Chipotle could prove to make a significant change in livestock farming standards. Costco has long offered pasture-raised eggs, grass fed beef, wild caught fish, nuts and seeds and a variety of organics. Its focus on selling bulk goods has made it a greener choice if you have the storage space.

Nestle and Hershey     These chocolatiers and candy giants will be moving away from artificial flavors and ingredients in their candies. Nestle will be removing Red 40 and Yellow 5 to name a few from all Nestle chocolate sold in the United States by the end of 2015. This impacts over 250 products, 75 recipes and many name brands. Will spinach be used to create green gummies in the future? Hopefully they’ll choose me in the consumer test bank to make sure taste and quality is not negatively affected!

Kellogg’s    On average, their cereals are 50 percent lower in salt than they were in 1998 and they’ve been aggressively scooping out the sugar in the breakfast towards the single digits for the last five years. Kellogg’s is committed to not purchasing soy from tropical deforested regions and pledges to achieve zero net deforestation from soy, palm oil and timber supply chains by 2020.   More than 80 percent of their box cartons are made from recycled fiber content with the remaining box carton material coming from either recyclable or other certifiable sustainable sources.

Bottomline:  Business as usual is no longer an option for companies who want to stay profitable. The law of demand is in play.  Suppliers know it’s going to take more than whitewashing their menu with a gluten-free bun and quinoa salad or green washing their image to have staying power these days.

Updated Reads on this Topic:

Tyson Stops Giving Antibiotics Used in Humans to Chickens

Chipotle Eliminates All GMOs in Its ingredients

Categories: Nutrition & Wellness

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2 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Journey as Janelle and commented:
    Great post about stores and restaurants embracing sustainable meat and produce!


  2. Both farming and how we produce food are changing fast. Those who don’t shift will likely be left behind.


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