Think-tank reveals healthy food-to-go opportunities

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

IGD identified four business opportunities for food manufacturers in the healthy food-to-go sector
IGD identified four business opportunities for food manufacturers in the healthy food-to-go sector

Related tags: Nutrition

Food and drink manufacturers can benefit from four key business opportunities in the healthy food-to-go (F2G) market, according to new research by grocery think-tank IGD.

In a survey of 9,000 people, one-third (31%) of consumers said they would eat out more if healthier options were more readily available, presenting opportunities for manufacturers to capitalise on F2G trends.

IGD head of shopper insight Rhian Thomas presented four business opportunities that food manufacturers could utilise to profit from the rise of healthy eating outside the home.

The first opportunity, offering a broader range of healthy options, would see manufacturers encouraging consumers to eat out more regularly by supplying a range of healthy options meeting specific dietary claims.

“Thirty percent of consumers are looking for more vegetarian options, 22% for more dairy-free choices and 20% for a larger vegan range,”​ said Thomas.

Sacrificing less healthy food

The second opportunity presented to food firms – repositioning the language of health – would look to give healthy eating a more positive spin, instead of it being presented as sacrificing less healthy food.

Thomas suggested manufacturers should market healthy foods as tasting good, as well as making consumers feel good.

“This requires hitting the right emotional notes,”​ she added. “For example, giving healthy ingredients ‘hero status’, using enticing language and visuals to excite the senses and creating a sense of theatre around preparation.”

Thirdly, food and drink companies could look to making their businesses market leaders in the healthy food sector. However, this needed to be done in a skilful way, Thomas warned, so as not to put off existing customers.

Manufacturers could achieve this by educating consumers on which of their products were healthier through labelling and range extensions, according to Thomas.

“There’s a continuing need for a bit of consumer education. We know from our research that the perception of a healthy product can be quite limited,” ​she said.

“Food firms could help people understand that hot food can be healthy and that their choices aren’t just limited to salads and fruits and vegetables.”

Vary their product offering

Finally, the fourth opportunity for manufacturers looking to capitalise on the healthy F2G market was to vary their product offering and target demographics.

Food firms should look at the various locations and occasions when people were most concerned with healthy eating, suggested Thomas.

“A concept that came through quite consistently was all around balance,” ​she added. “Consumers talked a lot about making trade-offs, whether that was in particular meals or meal occasions or even across a week, to maintain a level of control and balance across their diets.

“We think that helping consumers to make choices, be that through range extensions or on pack information, can help them achieve this balance they are seeking.

“The nature of out of home eating occasions are so varied that it creates a significant opportunity for different categories and new product development.”

Meanwhile, six principles of food integrity – “akin to a new industrial revolution​”​ – should be used to reshape the British food supply system in the run up to Brexit and beyond, according to Professor Chris Elliott’s keynote address at the Oxford Farming Conference earlier this month.

Related topics: Fresh produce

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