The health and wellness trend has gained huge momentum in the food retail industry over the last few years, and 2017 is shaping up to be no different. From national chains to independent store operators, retailers and brands will likely incorporate health and wellness into their business strategies this year. But what specifically will they focus on?
If 2016 was any indication, there are several health and wellness trends that food retailers and brands can expect to carry into 2017. And after combing through coverage in SmartBrief’s food and beverage newsletters, we identified some of last year’s biggest trends in health and wellness that the food industry should keep in mind in the coming year.
In-store efforts and events
Schnuck Markets offered dietitian-led store tours and cooking classes for new parents through their Baby Month initiative, Raley’s Supermarkets helped shoppers take small steps toward healthier lifestyles with its “Let’s Begin” program and Inserra Supermarkets ShopRite celebrated a decade of its retail dietitian service through a Healthy Meals Makeover event series last year, a string of similar efforts that will likely continue into 2017. Kroger banners Ralphs and Food 4 Less launched an effort that paired doctors, dietitians and nutrition experts with shoppers in stores to help them make healthier food choices. Last year, the number of dietitians working in retails stores neared the 1,000 mark, the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance reported.
“We’re really seeing the supermarket registered dietitian shine,” FMI’s Heather Garlich told the Journal News.
Last year’s in-store health and wellness efforts were not all focused around retail dietitians. This year, the industry could also see events like Produce for Kids’ partnership with Power Your Lunchbox Pledge, which included a campaign that provided recipes, tips and promotions aimed at helping families eat healthier lunches.
Easy, healthy meals and snacks
Produce for Kids’ healthy lunch campaign fits into another 2016 trend that could have legs into 2017. Shoppers sought out healthy meal and snack options, but they also looked for options that were easy and convenient, which are two words the food retail industry could hear a lot about this year too.
Healthy brand EatingWell teamed up with Bellisio Foods last year to offer easy-to-prepare frozen entrees like Cherry Port Pork that are also free of preservatives, artificial colors and hydrogenated oils. Meanwhile, Hormel Foods focused its product expansion around convenient, healthy offerings, adding Rev Bites, Muscle Milk bars and other portable better-for-you snacks. They are just two of many brands that tapped shopper demand for healthy and convenient food options last year, and expect more to come in 2017.
Better-for-you snacks and beverages
Hormel’s better-for-you product launches also highlight last year’s trend toward better-for-you snacks and beverages, which is sure to remain relevant this year. Makers of snack packs took advantage of last year’s demand for healthy snacks by offering veggies with built-in dips and other pairings such as cheese cubes and pretzels.
In the fall, PepsiCo made plans to revamp its lineup of snacks and beverages to focus more on health through efforts including seasoning its Frito-Lay offerings to decrease sodium and gradually lowering the calories in two-thirds of its beverages to 100 calories or less per 12-ounce serving. And Pepsi wasn’t the only company turning its focus to healthier beverages last year. Research from Canadean found that functional drinks including vegetable blends and probiotics were seeing increased interest, which shows no signs of slowing down this year.
Functional, natural and organic foods
Consumers’ cravings for functional beverages last year points to another trend likely to continue into 2017. Functional foods like fermented foods that promote gut health and immunity and chocolate products that also provide health benefits continued to gain popularity last year. Meanwhile, shoppers are also likely to continue seeking out natural and organic products this year, after sales in the category were slated to reach $69 billion last year, which was a trend that showed up in the aisles of national retailers and smaller chains alike.