Niche players serve up snacks for health-conscious
Natural and organic trends aren’t going away. Consumers have shown that they are willing to pay more for snack foods that offer them a nutritional benefit—especially when they are buying those products for their children. Consumers often are looking to small, niche players in the category for new product flavors and formulations to offer them something new. Retailers, from convenience stores to coffee shops to mass merchants, are reacting.
Starbucks recently created an “In With the Good” display, featuring healthy and organic snacks. On-display advertising read: “These are some of our favorite snacks made by people who share your passion for eating well.” The display included bagged snacks from Annie’s and Food Should Taste Good, nuts from Sahale Snacks, gluten-free cookies from Dr. Lucy’s and granola bars from Two Moms in the Raw. In its efforts to expand its snack food selection, Starbucks clearly sees an opportunity in healthier options.
“There’s a lot of demand for healthy snacks on the go, and it’s an open canvas for retailers,” said Melissa Abbott, culinary insights and trends manager at the Hartman Group. The Starbucks display, she said, is all about quality products that tempt consumers to try something new.
“Healthy eating is here to stay,” said Josh Schroeter, president and co-founder of Sahale Snacks, whose seasoned nuts were included in Starbucks’ display. “It’s a trend that may have started in health food stores and Whole Foods, but it has been integrated into supermarkets and mass merchants.”
Sahale, which created barbecue almonds for Starbucks, is rolling out the almonds and two other varieties of flavored nuts—Tuscan almonds and southwest cashews—to other channels. The brand also has launched Biscotti chips—light, chip-like whole-grain crisps with fruit and nuts that will retail for $4.99 for a 5.5-oz. bag. Schroeter said the convenience store channel is expanding its selection of healthier snacks, and Sahale has made inroads in that channel. The company now is testing its products in some drug chains and expected to expand its reach in that channel this year.
“A lot of people walk into a drug store with health on their mind, and it’s a good opportunity to offer healthier snack options that consumers have had to go elsewhere to purchase,” Schroeter said.
John Foraker, CEO of Annie’s, said consumers are buying his company’s snacks at Walmart, Safeway, Kroger and Target, but distribution in drug stores remains limited. “Eating foods without fake ingredients is very mainstream,” he said. “Drug stores are leaving money on the table by not carrying products that their time-crunched consumers are buying everywhere else.”
Products like Dr. Lucy’s cookies, which are fat- and cholesterol-free and are available in grab-and-go four-packs for $1.50, would seem like a natural impulse purchase for that hungry patient waiting for a statin prescription. “Drug stores are already dedicating real estate to the cookie category. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be there,” said Lucy Gibney, president and CEO of Dr. Lucy’s.
The Hartman Group’s Abbott said the Starbucks display does a good job of grouping premium products—some of which were made specifically for the company—in one place. While chain drug retailers can look to niche brands to inspire their customers to try new snacks, Abbott said they also could be more adventurous with their private-label products. “A lot of private-label brands are just knocking off the top mainstream CPG brands,” she said. “They can do so much better than that by localizing the brand or opting for more natural or organic options with new flavors.”
Gerber Generation campaign focuses on nutrition
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. Gerber is expanding its new integrated marketing campaign to underscore early childhood nutrition.
Gerber Generation, which debuted in March television, out-of-home and print advertising, is enhancing its campaign by throwing 1,001 baby showers in partnership with House Party. The expanded campaign follows on the Start Healthy, Stay Healthy nutrition system the brand uses for its products to address childhood nutrition and obesity.
The baby showers will be held at homes of moms and moms-to-be, where they can talk about the importance of good nutrition and introduce their friends and family members to Gerber’s wide array of resources that span from pregnancy through preschool. The parties will involve a mix of fun and education, and will include informational games, literature and Gerber product samples that help guide newly forming families through a baby’s nutrition journey.
“We have been leaders in early childhood nutrition and focused on the issue of childhood obesity for years,” said Rick Klauser, head of marketing for Nestle Infant Nutrition. “Research shows that the nutrition children get in the first five years can affect their health forever. We thought the idea of telling the story to moms from the mouths of children from all walks of life, at every stage of development from birth to age four, was compelling. These children are the next generation, the ‘Gerber Generation,’ and they deserve a healthy start.”
Whole grain, bran intake may reduce death risk in diabetic women
NEW YORK Women who consume bran and whole grain foods are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and other causes, researchers reported in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation.
The study — led by senior author Lu Qi, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues — used data from 7,822 women diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. During up to 26 years of follow-up, 852 deaths occurred, including 295 from cardiovascular disease in the diabetic women. The researchers used data from the food frequency questionnaires to calculate consumption of whole grain and its sub-components of bran and germ, as well as cereal fiber, in grams per day. They then divided the women into five groups based on their consumption of whole grain and its components.
Women who ate the most bran had 9.73 grams (median value) per day; those with the lowest consumption ate less than 0.8 grams (median value) per day.
The result: Women with Type 2 diabetes who ate the most bran had an average 35% lower risk of death from CVD and a 28% reduction in death from all causes than women who ate the least amount.
“To my knowledge, this is the first study of whole grain and its components and risk of death in diabetic patients,” said Qi, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and assistant professor of nutrition in the Harvard School of Public Health. “Patients with diabetes face two to three times the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death compared to the general population. These findings suggest a potential benefit of whole grain, and particularly bran, in reducing death and cardiovascular risk in diabetic patients.”
The American Heart Association recommends a dietary pattern rich in whole-grain, high fiber foods and that half of an individual’s grain intake should come from whole grains.