- The Consumer Goods Forum's fifth global survey, published March 6, says consumer goods retailers and manufacturers are making progress in "meeting consumers' expectations and fulfilling the industry's ambition to empower consumers to lead healthier lives."
- Data from the group's "2019 Health & Wellness Progress Report," collected in 2018, show 320,000 products have been reformulated to limit sugar and salt since the survey started in 2015, the CGF said in a release.
- The report's data found that 98% of companies are reformulating at least some of their products. More than 70% of them have reformulated products to reduce salt and sugar. The CGF consists of CEOs and senior management from 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers and other stakeholders in 70 countries.
Companies seem to be really listening to consumers who want healthier products and cleaner labels with a significant jump in reformulations last year. In the group's 2016 report, 66% of CGF members reported reformulating more than 180,000 products.
Making these formulation changes resonate strongly with many of today's consumers. According to Innova, 90% of U.S. consumers think foods and beverages with ingredients they recognize are healthier for them, and they're increasingly looking for transparency from manufacturers and retailers.
Besides the pressure from consumers to make healthier products, big food and beverage companies may also be feeling pressure from cleaner and leaner startups. These new businesses are often debuting more transparent products, like plant-based items and healthy snacks. They fit in with today's trends and are simultaneously giving legacy manufacturers a run for their money. When the larger companies switch up their recipes to reflect more transparency and cleaner labels, consumers who are paying attention may return to these now-healthier products as a result.
Manufacturers and retailers may have to do even more in the near future since the food sector never stands still for long and trends are ever-changing. And, as the updated Nutrition Facts panel rules start requiring added sugars on product packaging next year, consumers are likely to start paying as close attention to those numbers as calories and fat content.
It's one thing for companies to reduce the overall salt and sugar levels in their products and another for the per-serving amount to actually reflect the same reduction. Also, according to the latest CGF report, 79% of surveyed members said that 81% to 100% of their food and beverage products display key nutrient information on product packaging.
Whether the healthier moves food makers are making with their products will pay off in increased sales is another question, but they can't afford to do nothing when consumers demand changes. Some shoppers are still looking for indulgent products, so it's hard to know how to respond to conflicting messages. Millennials in particular are looking for that balance between good-for-you items and treats on which they can splurge, so consumer goods manufacturers and retailers may have to play the "all things to all people" role in order to retain market share.