by Angela Sams
Have you fallen for the latest trend of kale smoothies or chia seeds? It’s difficult to avoid, especially with all of the recent media hype about various Superfoods. If you’ve found yourself shopping more frequently in the produce section than the frozen dinner aisle, you may not be the only one changing your eating habits – it has become a nationwide phenomenon. According to this New York Times article, more and more consumers are moving away from big food manufacturers, even as those companies are attempting to change their ingredients in order to become more appealing. General Mills is nixing artificial colors and flavors from its cereals, and Hershey’s is focusing on “simple and easy-to-understand ingredients.” But will these changes be enough?
The numbers are a bit discouraging, at least from these companies’ point of view. Both soda and orange juice sales are down, as are cereals and frozen dinners. Instead, consumers are buying more fresh prepared food than ever – sales have grown almost 30 percent since 2009.
The trend also extends to the younger population. The article indicates that “sales of raw fruits and vegetables are also growing – among children and young adults, per capita consumption of vegetables if up 10 percent over the past five years.” A recent survey indicated that almost half of the millennial generation doesn’t trust big food corporations, and it is clear that drastic action will need to be taken if these companies want to win consumers back.
The solution will no doubt be challenging. It will need to involve more than just removing an artificial dye here or an antibiotic there. Companies will likely need to completely change how they approach food production. This may include large amounts spent on investment, and a “complete overhaul of their supply chains [as well as a] major organizational restructuring.” A challenge, yes, but not necessarily impossible.
Fresh, healthy food is in, and processed food made of ingredients most of us can’t even pronounce is out. Evidence suggests that this is more than a fad – it’s a lifestyle that is here to stay.