The Future of Food Retail in North America, Part 4: Health-focus

Posted in Trends Written by Chris Schotsman

If you have a teenager these days, chances are they're obsessed with the TV show Riverdale. If it's your guilty pleasure, too, it can be our little secret. Amongst the melodramatic mysteries and teen angst, you'll see Jughead scarfing down a greasy cheeseburger (or 12), just like his longstanding comic book counterpart. The "goofball who overeats junk food" trope has been a comedy staple stretching back from Juggy to Joey on Friends and Wimpy in Popeye.

Somehow these guys don't have terrible health problems. More and more, people understand that having anything but the very occasional cheeseburger is not a healthy idea. In fact, consumers are heading in the opposite direction and demanding more healthy food options. As a result, retailers and food companies are responding by providing what consumers are demanding. That's the focus of Part 4 of our five-part series on The Future of Food Retail in North America.

##What's driving the health-food focus?

1. Science:

Science now confirms what mother always said...we have to eat our veggies. We now know that so many diseases and disorders originate in the digestive system, and we want to make sure there are healthier things in there and things that can promote a healthy immune system, like probiotics.

2. Allergies and intolerance:

These have been on the rise for years, from lactose intolerance to peanut allergies. It's been suggested that healthier foods that promote microbial diversity may alleviate these conditions.

3. Digestion:

Probiotics and fibre are hot trends when it comes to health and wellness because they promote healthy digestion.

4. Aging population:

As the population gets older, they want to eat wisely to preserve their health and ensure longevity.

5. Millennials:

Conversely, the younger Millennial generation wants to get a head start on preserving their health to maintain their active lifestyle.

##What are retailers and food companies doing to meet the demand?

Healthier pasta options

An easy, quick and healthy meal for families could include a sauce loaded with liquefied or chopped-up vegetables the kids won't even realize are there. Pair this with a pasta made from beans or other plant-based ingredients.

###Healthier snacks Rather than eating unhealthy chips and dip or butter-drenched popcorn, the consumer can now choose low-calorie air-puffed potato snacks or air-puffed popcorn. There is also a push to make produce snackable. Just think of those dried mangos that can be found in the produce section. Just watch out...they may not be as healthy as you think!

###Removing the "bad stuff Many companies have stopped using artificial colours and flavours, and you'll see meat from animals fed with healthier foods, without the use of antibiotics.

And how are retailers responding? We barely need to mention the rise of health-food-centric stores like Whole Foods or GoodnessMe.

What we are seeing is that the healthy or organic options are becoming so widespread that instead of "organic" sections, some retailers (even the giants) are integrating organic options with the rest of their offerings. The consumer can now go to let's say the "ketchup" section and choose from regular, low sodium or organic.

Watching fictional characters stuff themselves with cheeseburgers will always be funny, but clearly healthy foods are getting the last laugh in real life. If you're a retailer looking to improve their healthy food sales, Cayuga Displays would be thrilled to help design your health food displays. Meanwhile, stay tuned for the fifth and final installment of our look at the future of food retail: how multiculturalism is affecting food retail.

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