- A recent survey published in the Journal of Marketing Research reported that "people who were chronically concerned about their weight and ate fitness-branded foods actually ended up eating more and working out less," CNBC reported.
- When trail mix was labeled as "fitness" versus simply "trail mix," "restrained" eaters consumed more of the "fitness" trail mix and restrained themselves from eating much of the traditionally labeled trail mix.
- These findings may perk up the ears of food companies that have been launching or considering launching new "healthier" products or making "healthy" or fitness-based claims on their product labels.
The survey's results may be a pat on the back for food companies who have created or retooled products to make them healthier and fitness foods-worthy, as it appears many consumers do tend to eat these types of foods more than "less healthy" versions of the same food. Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke said in a CNBC "Squawk on the Street" interview that, "The consumer has changed what he values, (and) health is the common denominator."
However, in some respects, the food industry may be receiving mixed messages from consumers in terms of what "healthy" means to them. Jeff Hamilton, Nestle USA’s president of prepared foods, recently told Food Dive, "Americans are just simply not dieting anymore," partially in response to the drop in sales of its Lean Cuisine brand over the years. A 2013 study from consumer research group NPD found that 20% of surveyed respondents said they were on a diet versus a peak of 31% in 1991.
While this may be true, the consumer health trend still holds today. In terms of eating healthy, instead of being as focused on fat, calories, and carbohydrates, particularly in the context of losing weight, consumers today tend to focus more on wholesome, natural, and simple ingredients. Companies like Nestle, Hershey, General Mills, and Kraft have responded over the past few months, and more food companies will undoubtedly follow.