Have you made any dietary changes in the past year or do you plan to? If you answered “yes,” you are not alone: In a recent survey conducted by The Motherhood (full results to come!), we found that 55 percent of respondents had made or plan to make better-for-you, health-conscious dietary changes, including eating more organic and natural products, and less sugar and carbs.

Shoppers are paying closer attention to the labeling on food packaging, too, as they are increasingly concerned with what’s in the food they are feeding their children and themselves. According to Women’s Marketing research, 58 percent of consumers usually or always read the ingredients list. Most importantly, consumers are reaching for foods with no additives or preservatives, with real ingredients that they can recognize and that are minimally processed or natural.

Consumers aren’t the only ones reaching toward nutritious eating habits; big consumer brands are following that lead. To keep up with demand, many large brands are transitioning to more natural ingredients and expanded product lines. Consumer packaged goods brands are adopting new practices to appeal to health-conscious shoppers by removing artificial ingredients, expanding product lines into healthier markets, and giving priority shelf space to healthier foods. These practices are becoming a necessity to compete, penetrating the fast food and fast casual markets as a way to show intent and build sustainability.

 

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Source: fleursvegankitchen.com

The government is also placing pressure on brands to eliminate harmful ingredients. Just this June, the Food and Drug Administration gave food brands three years to eliminate trans fats from the food supply! This effort is expected to save thousands of lives each year.

Bloggers and online influencers are fueling this trend of nutritious eating as they create content, share opinions and recipes and educate others on these topics via social media. In fact, 81 percent of U.S. women online trust Pinterest as a reliable source of information and advice, and furthermore, three out of every five boards on Pinterest are food-related, which creates a huge impact on formulating meal planning and food consumption practices.

Whole Food Blog: Fooduzzi - Pinterest

Source: Fooduzzi.com Pinterest

Social media and online platforms give brands a voice in the community to share authentically with consumers, which can have a huge impact on consumers’ opinions. Perceptions of brands and products are formed before shoppers even set foot in a store, through online and personal interactions — and more than 31 percent of food and beverage sales are directly influenced by digital.

Brands must connect with consumers on a level of trust regarding food ingredients as the demand for transparency increases. Not only do consumers want to know what’s in their food, they also want to know that it is coming from socially responsible sources.

Through the Balance Your Plate initiative, brands are educating consumers on how to make frozen meals more nutritious — providing families with tips on using frozen foods as part of wholesome, nutritious meals that meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. We’re happy to be working with California Pizza Kitchen, a brand involved in the movement, providing packaging and a website that highlights nutritious pairings as well as healthy sides and toppings for their delicious frozen pizzas.

Other brands are getting in on the action, too:

  • Kraft Mac & Cheese removed artificial flavors and preservatives. (Can you taste the difference?)
  • Jelly Belly will be releasing a line of fruit-flavored organic candies. (Yum!)
  • Target notified manufacturers that they would start promoting healthier options in an effort to project a healthier image.
  • Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Hershey’s, Smuckers, Arby’s and many more are all joining in the movement of including more natural ingredients in their products.
  • Chipotle became the first national restaurant chain to cook only with non-GMO ingredients.

With consumers’ powerful influence online and in person, brands are making the choice to build more health-conscious, socially responsible products in order to compete. I (Kahlianne) was lucky enough to grow up in a household where my mom was always health conscious and encouraged the development of good eating habits in my brothers and me. Have you adopted healthier eating habits in your household recently?

Featured image at the top of the post courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user tsausawest