American diets today are vastly different than they were even twenty years ago. The mindset of consumers has begun to shift. Convenience products are losing favor to fresh, nutritious and natural options. This significant change is healthier for the eater, and it presents opportunities for natural and organic food companies. For food industry giants, it signals a worrisome shift.
Consumption of fresh foods has gone up by 20% between 2003 – 2013.
Between 2003-2013, the consumption of fresh foods has gone up by 20% to over 100 billion servings worldwide and continues to tick upward with each passing year. As consumers express their desire for more wholesome, natural foods, they’re beginning to pull away from sugar and artificial ingredients.
This trend has contributed to falling sales in once popular foods and beverages. One of the most striking indicator of the shifting tastes is the 25% decline in soda sales over the past two decades.
Processed foods sales have fallen more than 1% each year from 2013-2015.
Along with middle aisle sales (think: cereal, convenience snacks, canned goods), processed food sales have taken a hit, falling more than 1% each year from 2013-2015. Meanwhile, organic and natural food sales have more than tripled in the last decade.
Consumers are not only moving towards fresher food, but they are also trending towards the most natural and pesticide-free variations of it. More evidence that shoppers desire natural over traditionally formulated products is the push to label GMOs. Studies have found that 92% of American consumers are for mandatory labeling of GMO foods and ingredients.
How do consumers’ changing tastes impact the food industry?
The natural foods industry is taking the lead as the fastest-growing sector of the American food market. Organic food alone is expected to surpass 45 billion in annual sales for the next year.
The trends can’t be ignored any longer and traditional American food companies are taking notice. Not only are their numbers falling, but their natural counterparts’ numbers are quickly rising. Large and small food industry players are learning that consumers are weary of marketing tactics and gimmicks. Shoppers are now actively reading labels and investigating ingredients to verify the quality and freshness of products.
Rather than trying to earn back consumer trust, which has become increasingly difficult in recent years, big food companies are taking a different approach. Instead of creating more natural products themselves, many companies are opting to purchase existing natural & organic brands and the consumer base that comes with them.
What do the changes mean for the future of the American food industry?
The American public’s appetite continues to evolve. The push for fresher, more natural food continues to grow, and companies that supply fresh, natural foods are have more opportunity in the market.
Industry leaders in the ready-made and convenience food segments are taking notice. Instead of relying on classic marketing persuasion like dressing their food up as natural, big food is attempting to revise, revamp, and reimagine their products. Ultimately, these changes will result in healthier, more natural food for the consumer.