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Symphony Consulting: Growth rates of key label claims - organic, natural, gluten-free - are leveling off

By Elaine WATSON , 03-May-2013

Growth rates of several individual label claims under the health & wellness umbrella have started to level off, according to new research from Symphony Consulting.

In the Executive briefing ‘What’s In Store for Health & Wellness?’ the consultancy says sales growth rates of products featuring several high-profile claims retreated in 2012, including ‘whole grains’, ‘No/Low/Less Sugar’ and ‘No Preservatives’.

It adds: “Overall, only six of the top-20 claims [No/Low/Less sodium/salt, x calories per serving, natural sweeteners, organic, natural, gluten-free ] grew at a rate faster than the food & beverage average in 2009-2012 and only three of them [organic, natural and gluten-free] maintained their growth momentum in 2012.

Only 6 of the top-20 claims grew at a rate faster than the food & beverage average in 2009-2012

And while sales of products featuring ‘organic’, ‘natural’ and ‘gluten-free’ claims still grew in 2012, the pace of growth slowed noticeably compared with the 2009-11 period, says the report, which is based on an analysis of Symphony IRI multi-outlet retail data.

“[The sales growth of products featuring] natural claims, which nearly trebled food & beverage dollar sales growth rate between 2009 and 2011, retreated back to close to industry growth rates the following year”, while “gluten-free’s growth rate [in 2012] was cut by more than half its 2009-2011 growth”.

Meanwhile,sales of products featuring the claim ‘x calories per serving’” which more than doubled food & beverage dollar sales growth between 2009 and 2011, did not grow in 2012”, while products featuring ‘natural-sweetener’ claims “posted a 6.5% decline after more than trebling food & beverage dollar sales growth over the prior two years”. 

Manufacturers and retailers must approach health and wellness holistically

Clif Bar's whole brand is about health & wellness, not specific claims, says Symphony Consulting

As such, individual claims are “clearly vulnerable”, it says. “What’s evident, then, is that manufacturers and retailers must approach health and wellness holistically, focusing not on specific claims but on advancing general health and wellbeing.”

The most successful health and wellness brands, such as Clif Bar, Naked juice and Chobani, take an overarching approach, which resonates with Millennials, who are more attracted to mainstream means of protecting general health than niche claims, adds the briefing.

“Although Chobani’s dominant nutritive claim – ‘high protein’ – underperforms across food & beverage, Chobani triumphs because it does not allow this claim to stand alone.

“The same applies to Naked, a leader in the super-premium juice category. Although its key attributes are discrete and even omissive – all-natural, no added sugar, no preservatives – it has driven 20% growth over the same three-year period on the strength of a broad and compelling promise: good health.”

Click here to read about Mintel’s take on health & wellness and natural label claims. 

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