By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
As nutrition communicators, retail dietitians can sometimes find it difficult to deliver sound nutrition advice amid a social media environment powered by click-bait. This situation can also be a struggle for large food companies who are trying to balance nutrition science with consumer trends. Nestle, the world’s largest food and beverage company, provides insights for how they navigate the complex task of combining shopper interest in trending media hype with sound nutrition science to create products that sell in your supermarkets.
Creating new food products requires that companies understand these consumer trends but they also need to look at nutrition truths related to science and regulations. These considerations can then be aligned with business realities. For Nestle that means promoting consumer health with nutritious, tasty products, while improving environmental impact.
Consider the development of new plant-based foods. The interest in this eating plan has been sparked by documentaries, celebrity endorsements, and animal welfare/environmental concerns, and according to IFIC’s 2018 Food & Health survey, 20% of consumers are trying to reduce meat consumption while 42% are actively seeking foods with plant-based claims. Regarding nutrition research, studies indicate that shifting to more plant foods can be beneficial to health. On the business side, the market for plant-based foods represent $3.1B with growth seen both in plant-based dairy and meats. To address this need and growth potential, companies may respond with a variety of plant-based extensions on key brands or acquire a smaller plant-based food company. Nestle’s plant-based solutions include: Non-dairy Haagen-Dazs, Lean Cuisine entrees, coconut milk coffee creamers, Sweet Earth pizzas and breakfast sandwiches and Carnation almond cooking milk. Product offerings they hope ensure meaningful market potential.