Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Is the junk food era contracting? Latest trend indicates such a directional change in the food sector

Unhealthy foods are supposed to be overwhelming the populations in many countries causing untold miseries in the form of life style diseases like obesity and disorders like diabetes, CVD, kidney impairment, cancer etc. The modern food processing industry which manufactures and peddles thousands of products to the unwary consumers is partly to blame for this tectonic shift in the health status of to day's denizens. Of course lack of determination to lead a disciplined life and greater and greater addiction to sugary and fatty foods with low nutrient density on the part of the consumer also contribute to this potentially dangerous situation. It is against this background one has to appreciate the reversal of a trend in the past of increased consumption of unhealthy foods as reflected by the data released recently in the US. This is indeed encouraging and must be welcomed by the health experts hoping for a reinvigorated society with declining diseases and improved health. 

"The U.S. food industry has got decisions to make, decisions that could make or break companies that have been in business for decades. When Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi told analysts last month that the soft-drink market "continues to be under pressure from a volume perspective," that's another way of saying not as many people are drinking soda. In fact, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported, soda and cereal revenue has contracted about 2 percent a year in the United States for the past two years. That's based on data from Euromonitor International. Go back a little further and you find that U.S. soda and cereal sales are down 25 percent since 1998. But there are other changes:
--Orange juice per capita consumption is down 45 percent in this country over the past 17 years
--Frozen dinner sales are down nearly 12 percent from 2007 to 2013
--Sales of organic products hit $39.1 billion in 2014, up 11 percent over the previous year, according to the Organic Trade Association."

If one relies on these figures what would be the response from the industry which has been taking the consumers for a ride during the last 5 decades by playing to their palate rather than to their health? Alarms are being raised about declining sales volumes of products like soft drinks affecting their bottom line and surely the industry must be mulling over new strategies for recapturing its lost clientele. However if the organic food industry has registered impressive growth during the last few years, the writing on the wall is clear. The message is to the industry to mend its ways and give more attention to the well being of its clients when future strategies are drawn up. What is disturbing is the declining consumption of healthy products like orange juice which may be due the deceptive ways by which sugar laden dilute juices are sold as genuine juice and the consumer seeing through this deceit. Probably the industry has no alternative but to focus more on converting many of their products to healthier ones by avoiding use of unnecessary chemicals, too much sugar, fat and salt  and making them more nutritious and safe using natural raw materials and ingredients that make it possible. 


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