With so many grocery products now stamped with “reduced fat,” “low calorie” and “9 grams of fiber” claims, people are growing more and more health-conscious. Consumers are opting to buy organic foods, carefully checking nutrition labels and monitoring what they ingest into their bodies.
In particular, meat is among the food groups in which people are trying to cut back or choose healthier, organic options. News of unhealthy practices in raising livestock and chickens as well as health concerns are common motives that cause even non-vegans to shy away from meat.
In response, food producers are making efforts to deliver healthier products to consumers. Beyond Meat, a vegan start-up company, recently launched veggie chicken at Whole Foods stores in the Northern California region and at two Roots Market locations in Maryland.
In a market worth $340 million, alternatives that have flavor and texture resembling real meat are nearly impossible to find. Perhaps that’s why Twitter co-founders, Evan Williams and Biz Stone (a vegan of ten years), have taken interest in supporting Beyond Meat, which offers plant-based alternatives unlike any in its market.
Beyond Meat’s faux chicken is made mostly from pea and soy powders, carrot protein and gluten-free flour. By taking plant proteins and realigning them to mimic the appearance and mouth-feel of real animal meat, the imposter chicken was even able to fool New York Times’ food columnist, Mark Bittman, in a blind food tasting. According to Ethan Brown, founder of Beyond Meat, their technology can also mimic beef, pork and fish. In fact, Brown hopes to launch Beyond Meat’s second product, fake beef, in the fall.
The alternative chicken is both healthy and tasty —with no saturated or trans fats, gluten, GMOs, cholesterol, dairy, hormones or, of course, meat! A 3-ounce serving of this fake chicken has 19 grams of protein. At just 100 calories, it maintains its delicious flavor and texture as if it was real thing.
It will be interesting to see if William and Stone –the men who transformed the way we communicate (in just 140 characters or less)– can help transform the way we view (and eat) meat. Will you opt to try this new alternative?
Hats Off to Whole Foods … this app is a really strong example of both mobile application and peer-to-peer communication … and another reason that my iPhone looks so used and beaten up. From a marketing point of view, apps like this one further elevate and extend the Whole Foods brand … certainly this app is a perfect manifestation of the Whole Foods mission.
The Mission App allows users to earn badges for taking steps toward various goals. There are more than 70 “missions” for you to choose from. Within each is a checklist of foods to eat, things to do, even movies to watch. All designed to educate and push you out of whatever rut you’re stuck in. When you successfully complete all of the requirements within a category you earn a badge. You can share your badges with friends via twitter, facebook or email.
Personally, I’m not going for any badges. For me, the usefulness is the Tips section … it offers more than 300 tips across nine subject matters: Cooking, Fresh & Frugal, Green Living, In the Store, Nutrition, Storage, Time Savers, Your Wellness and a kind of strange group called Worth a Try. I’ve found many of the tips to be helpful, especially those in Cooking and Storage.
Fun, succinct and social. Oh, and free! Available for iPad, iPhone and iPod.
As part of the baby-boom generation that grew up rather simply – that is, not thinking too hard about food or even knowing the right questions to ask – I’m thrilled to finally have the 24/7 access to information that defines today’s world.Whole Foods, Meijer, Trader Joe’s and HyVee as sources of information.
Colman Brohan Davis’s recent Food Shopping Survey 2009 turned up some interesting insights about my peers. Relative to the other segments measured (Women 20 – 25 and Men), we are heavier readers and tv watchers, looking to books, magazines and the tube to gather information and form opinions. And we’ve avidly embraced life online, particularly search and mobile. We love exploring blogs, postings and sites that provide insight and data about food. We have fun sharing our opinions.
Here are some highlights of our research:
It’s been a while since I was part of the 20 – 25 year old market segment and I recall having a “devil may care” approach to food buying and consumption. Sure, I cared somewhat about calories, but actually finding caloric content info wasn’t easy. Forget about RDAs and percentage of fat vs. sugar vs. proteins. Fiber? Don’t think so.
I just had lunch with my cousin, a college freshman, who filled me in on her eating habits. She spurned the school meal plan, opting to cook for herself. She shops at Whole Foods almost exclusively, eats organic when she can, doesn’t mix carbs with anything else and has pretty much a hands-off attitude about sugar. Turns out, she fits the profile of the Young Women (20-25 year old) segment of our recent Food Shopping Survey 2009. We asked respondents to rank purchase considerations among 12 criteria; then probed into label-reading. Here are a few highlights:
- The overall #1 criteria is Taste, but for this group Price is a close second. Which, interestingly, often means buying simple, fresh ingredients rather than prepared, packaged foods.
- Young Women were not as concerned about preservatives or fiber as their “more mature” female counterparts.
- More than any other group, Young Women were more influenced by Packaging, yet paid less notice to Brand Name. This comes as an expression of their curiosity in exploring items, general “newness” of shopping independently, and the attendant lack of brand loyalty.
- Young Women (and Young Men) are more interested in organic and fair trade than any other segment.
- A lot of information is derived online as well as through friends, including those on Facebook and other social networks. Some of the favorite online sources cited are: Hungry Girl, fitday, Jillian Michaels, wholefoods, idealist and epicurious. And two favorite magazines are Fitness and Health.
Here are a few verbatim comments which reflect a collective point of view:
- “I’m eating less healthy now that I’m in college and away from my parents. But I’m determined to turn that around.”
- “I just got married and my husband is obsessed with saving money. Still, we buy good, whole foods. No more pre-packaged junk for us.”
- “I buy more ‘real’ food, meaning not processed. If I buy pre-packaged foods, I look for ‘real’ingredients, those I recognize as food.”
-“I’m more aware of the effects that highly processed foods have not only on people, but on the economy and sustainability of the earth.”
- “I just returned from two years living in France, where I learned to shop almost daily for fresh foods … a great habit.”
-“I’m not interested in brand names. I’m reading labels, cutting out things with added sugar.”
-“I’ve given up dairy.”
- “I became a vegetarian.”
-“I’m purchasing from local/smaller grocery stores. Also looking at what is in my food. For things like bread, it’s ridiculous that it would contain HFCS (as an example).”
- “SEO is a great thing. You can Google anything and the information will pop up. I do this the first time I buy just about anything – that is, go online to find what’s in it.”
To sum it up, these are the views of our emerging food buyer, in her first few years of meal planning independence. Maybe she’s in college right now, or newly married, but soon she’s likely to be buying for a family. We know a lot about how she selects food and engages with brands, but few ingredient companies are using this intelligence wisely. There’s a lot of “if we build it, they will come” mentality still rampant in b2b marketing. Ask yourself … do you understand this consumer? And how can you join the conversation?
I know that my husband’s food buying habits have changed dramatically over the years, but a focus group of one isn’t exactly statistically valid. What a shocker, reviewing the results … and comments … from our Food Shopping Survey 2009 which had over 200 adult responders. Men accounted for 32% of the base. The two other groups we segmented are Young Women (ages 20 – 25) and Mid-Age Women (26 – 49).
Of the variety of 12 items to rank in importance when buying food, of course Taste is #1 across the board. Cost is 2nd overall, but for men, it’s 4th. As true with the collective group, men have become label readers. Men of “a certain age” (older than 30) care about calories. In fact over 91% of men 30+ look at calorie and fat content. Only 60% of men under 30 bother with calories or fat. Really, men care about calories? Wow, watch a few Burger King commercials and you’ve got to wonder. Some of the other interesting insights:
- Young men buy more organics than older men.
- Men care more about protein and less about fiber.
- Men care much less about brand name than women do.
- Men gravitated more to organics than women.
Comments clustered around some key subject areas:
- Reading labels: “I’ve become more aware of content and finally learned how to read a label.”
- Origin of food: “I’m much more concerned about origin of food due to recent contamination issues” and “I want to know where ingredients come from. If I can’t find out easily, I don’t buy the product”.
- Organics: “I’m more interested in organic products and am spending less money but eating better.”
- Buying local: “’We’ve switched as much as possible to local farmers markets. Purchase as little processed food as we can”.
- Food education: “With more information on effects of chemicals in food, I’m steering away from certain types of ingredients”.
- Sustainability: “I’m purchasing higher quality food and let factors like the company’s environmental considerations come into the picture”.
Means to track these markers are ever increasing. As the nation’s largest supermarkets develop and employ rating systems such as Guiding Stars, NuVal and Nutrition iQ, we’re heading in a more consumer-empowered direction. Check out Good Guide and see how foods are vetted on way more than taste and ingredients.
So what does that mean to food manufacturers and the ingredient companies that supply them? To me, it points toward better supply chain management, greater transparency and a lot more dialogue with consumers.
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