As you take the time to read my column this month, I ask that you take a minute to think about what you have consumed within the last 24 hours. If your 24-hour period is anything like mine, I’m sure there are some healthy products, some indulgent products, and some that toe the line. I’d like to think I maintain a healthy balance with food and exercise, but according to a recent study from Nielsen and the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), consumer perceptions of health and wellness don’t always add up with their actions.
The market research firms divided their report, “Health and Wellness in America,” into three parts. In part one, “The Consumer Perspective,” the report named four key themes: Knowledge is King, Healthy Aspirations, Food as Medicine, and Not One Size Fits All. Under Healthy Aspirations, it noted that 89 percent of respondents think that taking personal responsibility for their own health is the best way to stay healthy, while 75 percent say they try to manage health through nutrition, and 64 percent report using whatever means necessary in order to control their health. Although the report shows high incidences for supporting a person’s healthy lifestyle, execution is not at the same level. Seventy percent of respondents reported that they are “actively trying to be healthier,” 50 percent think that eating healthy can be a challenge, and 66 percent reported that they don’t exercise as much as they would like.
Another key point that the study noted came under its Food as Medicine theme, which addressed the concept of functional foods and beverages. “Based on NMI longitudinal consumer data, one-third of American adults believe that functional foods and beverages can be substituted for some medicines in their overall health plan,” the report states. “That trend is even more pronounced among baby boomers and matures.” This data came from the NMI 2013 Health & Wellness Trends Database.
For example, consumer education about protein and its ties to weight man-agement, muscle recovery and energy have led to an increase in the number of consumers who seek out protein-fortified foods and beverages, the report notes.
The beverage industry is no stranger to this concept. Last month, CytoSport Holdings, which recently was acquired by Hormel Foods, released an organic version of its ready-to-drink Muscle Milk protein shakes. Each shake contains 15 grams of U.S. Department of Agriculture certified-organic protein. Mamma Chia also is adding more products to the protein-enriched realm with its Vitality + Energy beverages, which debuted at the Fancy Food Show in New York earlier this year. The organic beverages contain 4 grams of protein in addition to fiber, omega-3s, calcium and other vitamins and minerals.
Although consumers might be struggling to balance health-and-wellness desires with their actions, it’s great to see beverage-makers doing their part to make the task a little bit easier for them.