Linda Cullen, Food and Beverages Division, Bord Bia, Irish Food Board
Global trends in food and drink indicate that today’s consumers are becoming more conscious about making healthy food choices with four in ten US and UK consumers increasing their consumption of healthy foods, one in two UK, US and German consumers claim to read ingredient labels often and seven in ten want to know and understand the ingredient list. www.innovadatabase.com In the past week McDonald’s announced that it is removing cheeseburgers from its Happy Meal menus as the fast food giant seeks to shed its junk food image in line with consumer interest in healthier living.
The company announced that it is also cutting the sugar content of its chocolate milk and adding bottled water to the menu. By the end of 2022, McDonald’s goal is that at least 50 per cent or more of the Happy Meals listed on menus in 120 markets will be 600 calories or less. Portion control is becoming more prevalent as food manufacturers and suppliers are developing and packaging more products in single portion servings.
In a recent Bord Bia report on Snacking Today in Ireland and the UK which shows the continuing popularity of snacks with 4 in 10 people (in RoI) snacking more often, the findings also highlighted the growing importance of health in the snacking category with consumers wanting great tasting snacks without the guilt of traditional, indulgent products. The size of the snacking category in Ireland is valued at €3.38 billion (2016) and forecast to grow by 5% to €3.58 bn by 2021.
Over a third of consumers have good intentions when it comes to eating habits but indulgent treats such as crisps and chocolates are still among our favourite snacks. Consumption of these products is common among consumers who snack regularly during the evening. These snacks are seen as a reward for a long day when indulgence and treating become prevalent.
Despite many consumers still preferring a more indulgent treat, the trend towards healthier options continues to gather pace. Over 90 per cent of consumers claim to worry about what they eat. There was an increase of 124 per cent in snack food products launched in the UK and Ireland with low, no or reduced sugar claims between 2011 and 2015. However low or reduced fat, calorie or sugar versions accounted for less than 10 per cent of NPD in 2016. Healthy snacking is now driving NPD in the snacking category and accounts for 9 per cent of the category but is in double digit growth. However there is still an opportunity for more NPD in snacking as consumers seek out healthier versions of their favourite snacks.
Further information from the recent Bord Bia Snacking research including emerging opportunities for manufacturers can be accessed by clicking here