10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2015

This is the trend analysis which companies around the world - from corporate giants to 2-person start-ups - use to guide their health and wellness strategy.

This is the only trend analysis which focuses on the long-term trends that create worthwhile growth opportunities.

The most successful brands and ingredient companies in the world use our Key Trends report every year to make sure they get it right – shouldn’t you be one of them?

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Recent Case Studies Free-from and natural brand reshapes bar category A pair of American entrepreneurs have made a free-from brand one of the most successful and fastest growing snacks in the UK, despite selling at super-premium prices against the background of a weak economy. read more In Japan, granola is a hot category Once derided by Japanese consumers as a sugary food for kids, cereal – and specifically granola – has had a change of image, with sales growth in double digits since 2010. The about-face in consumer attitudes is largely down to the efforts of one granola company. read more Plum taps into adult snacking trends Creating mini, kid-friendly versions of foods and drinks for adults is a common route for new product developers. But in a reversal of this, Campbells-owned Plum Organic has taken the squeezy, puree-filled pouch format it helped pioneer for kids and made a version for grown-ups. read more Millennials spot potential of pouch for adult snacks You might expect jelly in a squeezy pouch to be a hit with kids. But Fruigees fruit-and-vegetable-based puddings have found a receptive market among adults looking for convenient, tasty food on the go – and its inexperienced creators have beaten the big food companies in the innovation game. read more How to spot the next “naturally functional” success Not every cool and trendy new ingredient is going to become a superstar. But studying just what factors propelled berries – and especially blueberries – to superfood status could help identify future winners. read more Coffee fruit waste powers “new age” low-cal drink Based on the high-antioxidant waste from coffee processing, Bai believes its low-calorie drinks offer the right combination of taste and feel-good factor – thanks to its zero-sugar formulation – to become the Coca-Cola or Pepsi for the Millennial generation. read more Protein and coconut water pairing for perfect sports drink CocoPro combines muscle benefits of protein and hydration benefits of coconut water to create what could be the perfect recovery drink. This “elite level” drink comes with premium ingredients and a premium price, and the reassurance that it won’t cause sportspeople drinking it to fail drugs tests. read more Probiotic pioneer pushes juice expansion Everything from Russian-EU geopolitics to poorly-managed joint ventures appears to be holding up international growth in probiotic juices. Finland’s Valio updates Paul Gander on current challenges and opportunities. read more
Has a tech-inspired consumer shift pushed Weight Watchers into a spiral of doom?

Has a tech-inspired consumer shift pushed Weight Watchers into a spiral of doom?

A year ago, every warning light was flashing red for weight management giant Weight Watchers, whose sales fell by 6.3% in 2013. In response, the company’s CEO announced that, “We are confident that we are on the right track to execute a successful transformation.”

But one year later, Weight Watchers’ decline is accelerating and the signs are that, thanks to a massive shift in consumer behaviour, things can only get worse.

Born in 1964, Weight Watchers meetings and motivational groups were the first of their kind. Its weight management programme is clinically proven – and actually recommended by health authorities in the US, UK and elsewhere. But what Weight Watchers offers is losing consumer relevance.

There was no good news in the company’s results, announced last week:

  • In the year to January 3rd 2015 sales were down 14%.
  • Fees earned for weight management meetings – the face-to-face support groups which the company invented in the 1960s and which account for 50% of total company revenue – fell by 12.2%. This followed an 8.9% decline the previous year.
  • Even the company’s website – hailed as a way of developing the business in a market in which online is taking over from face-to-face interactions – saw its users decline by 16.7%, following a 6.7% decline the previous year.

Technology has been one of the strongest challenges to the Weight Watchers business model. The proliferation of free apps and online programmes has undermined the value to consumers of paid-for weight management programmes offered by Kellogg Special K, Weight Watchers, NutriSystem and Jenny Craig, all of which have seen sales plunge.

And that’s not the only problem. Food manufacturers in the US and Europe market products under the Weight Watchers brand (paying Weight Watchers a license fee). But if something says “Weight Watchers”, it is no longer a “normal food” in the eyes of today’s consumers. And hence it’s unsurprising that sales of Weight Watchers branded foods are also falling. In the UK, for example, sales were down 12% in 2014, following a 12% fall in 2013.

The whole weight management market has undergone a massive shift:

  • Weight Watchers has to compete against free alternatives online
  • thanks to modern work patterns and demands, fewer people are able to make the time commitment to turn up at a meeting each week
  • weight management has switched from being something specific and separate to an everyday concern with “weight wellness” top-of-mind in people’s everyday eating choices
  • “specially designed” weight management foods are falling out of favour.

Short of a massive shift in its strategy, it’s difficult to see how anything can save Weight Watchers from further declines.

Read more on the blog

Julian Mellentin

Industry Events
In-depth analysis of trends and excellent insights. The case studies provide solid market data and I refer to them often and in particular when starting new initiatives. Mary Parsons VP Global Platform Development, The Hershey Company

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