MarketWatch -- October 2006
Organic GrindingWith American consumers continuing to embrace organic foods, the number of such products on the market steadily grows, and the products now can be found even in indulgent areas of the supermarket. The Organic Trade Association has noted the increasing popularity of organic products in the U.S., with organic food sales nearly tripling since 1997 and posting a steady 17%-21% growth rate each year. During that time, the organic ice cream segment has grown nearly 55%.
Recognizing the growth in this lifestyle, Unilever has introduced Breyers Organic Ice Cream. Found in either the freezer or organic freezer sections at supermarkets across the country, the product is in four flavors: vanilla bean, chocolate, coffee and vanilla fudge swirl. The brand also has targeted the nation's 30 million to 50 million lactose-intolerant consumers with Breyers Lactose Free Vanilla ice cream.
Kids Not AlrightObesity concerns continue to dominate the media's attention around the country. Recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics show 119 million Americans either overweight or obese; that is 64.5% of the population. Furthermore, the crisis is not solely an American phenomenon; the European Commission says over one quarter of men and one third of women are considered obese in some of its member countries. Similar to the U.S., adults are not the only ones at risk; some 14 million European children are overweight. The CDC has warned that if current children's eating habits persist, 30%-40% will eventually suffer from diabetes.
To combat the problem, expect an increasing number of products with a focus on children's weight. Case in point is EatWellStayHealthy Kids breaded chicken breast nuggets and breaded popcorn chicken from Pilgrim's Pride, the first to feature the USDA-regulated word “healthy” on pack. The poultry product claims they will help lead the fight against childhood obesity.
Howling GoodAmericans love their pets. For many empty nesters, they provide the comfort and companionship lost since the children left home. For a growing number of young adults, pets are occupying the time and attention once reserved for children. Considering nearly one in five U.S. companies allow pets at work, some would say these companions are more office-friendly than kids. The U.S. has 70 million pet cats and more than 60 million pet dogs. Disturbingly, almost 17% of pet cats are over the age of 11; more than 15% of pet dogs have hit that age. With these aging canines on the market, a number of owners are turning their attention to improving the health and lengthening the life of their companions.
Catering to those whims, Wellness Pet Foods has debuted a wellness line of dog treats called WellBites, Pure Rewards and WellBars. These three treats promise to be an indulgence for the pooches, sans any guilt for the owners, since they provide fiber, high levels of protein or healthy grains.
Signs of the Cross-contact with AllergensThe Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), FDA, has prepared a report examining multiple issues relating to cross-contact with food allergens during the manufacture and distribution of foods, as well as the uses and consumer preferences about advisory labeling. The full report may be found at CFSAN's website: www.cfsan.fda.gov/~acrobat/alrgrep.pdf.
The report notes the continued use of current good manufacturing practices is “critical to the reduction and elimination of cross-contact.” It further finds that a high proportion of manufacturing facilities have cross-contact control measures in place, regardless of whether the firm uses advisory labeling. It goes into detail about consumers' advisory label preferences, including believability and purchase likelihood.
Of course, in a perfect world, concerns about food allergens would be nonexistent.
Getting the SkinnyThe Trust for America's Health has compiled a report evaluating the nation's obesity rates by state. Some 31 states saw their rates increase in 2005, led by the 29.5% of Mississippian adults considered to be obese. This is an increase of 1.1 percentage points compared with last year's statistics. Mississippi was followed by Alabama, with West Virginia, Louisiana and Kentucky among the “fat five.”
Colorado came in as the leanest state, with a relatively slim 16.9% of its adults categorized as obese, still a slight increase from last year's numbers. Hawaii, Massachusetts and Vermont joined Colorado as the fittest four. All states save one (Nevada) saw their adult obesity rates increase over the past year. Rates remained the same in 18 states, as well as in Washington. None are anywhere near the national goal of 15% or less, a target set for the year 2010.
Obesity exceeds 25% in 13 states, though health officials in the report say a high incidence of obesity in a particular state does not necessarily mean that state treats the issue less seriously than other states. The Trust for America's Health based its obesity figures on a three-year average (2003-2005) of data from an annual random sampling of adults via telephone. The group promotes increased funding for public-health programs. The full report and complete state rankings may be found at the website www.healthyamericans.org.
Most, if not all, Americans seem to be aware of the obesity issue, and a number have implemented diet plans. However, most appear to still be looking for that perfect diet plan, according to research compiled by Mintel International Group and summarized briefly in the accompanying chart.
THE IN BOX:For daily industry news updates, see the homepage of www.PreparedFoods.com and www.NutraSolutions.com.
* Two leaders in food ingredients have joined forces to develop flavor systems with health benefits. Cognis and WILD Flavors Inc. have signed an agreement to share their expertise for product innovation. Within the framework of the agreement, Cognis' ingredients will be incorporated into WILD's flavor systems and fruit preparations. Joint technical project teams will be set up to better meet customers' needs.
* Briess Malt & Ingredients Company expanded its sales coverage with the addition of two managers. TinTin Delphin has been named division manager-West and Steve King has been named division manager-East.
* David Cai, PhD, joined Cognis Nutrition & Health as senior scientist responsible for managing scientific research projects in North America.
* The Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA) has announced two new leadership changes for 2006 and 2007 with the naming of Geri Berdak, director of Public Affairs with The Solae Company, as president and Ted Nordquist, CEO of WholeSoy & Co., as vice president. A.M. Todd appointed Raymond J. Hughes as president of its Flavors & Ingredients Division.
* Dr. Michael Witzel was appointed new chairman of the management board of GELITA AG.
* Glanbia plc. announced the acquisition of Seltzer Companies Inc. for $105 million, including $80 million cash on completion and $25 million deferred payments.
* CP Kelco is expanding into China to produce purified carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) in Taixing, Jiangsu Province.
* LycoRed Corp. moved its U.S. headquarters to Orange, N.J., the site of the former H. Reisman company.
* Wixon Inc. named Jason Williams as regional account manager of industrial products.
* Food industry veteran Chuck Marble, recently named executive vice president of Weetabix North America, will be overseeing the newly consolidated group including Barbara's Bakery Inc., The Weetabix Company Inc. and Weetabix of Canada Limited.
* Nutrition 21 has an agreement to purchase consumer health product provider Icelandic Health that could also expand distribution of its chromium supplements. Iceland Health has the exclusive U.S. rights to a fish oil and omega-3 oils manufactured through a patented distillation process.