The number of new products launched in the US market featuring the term ‘diet’ in the brand or product name has plummeted in the last five years as weight conscious shoppers seek out more positive messages, according to market researchers.
Speaking at Weight Management 2011 , a virtual conference and expo organized by NutraIngredients-USA and FoodNavigator-USA yesterday, Datamonitor Product Launch Analytics director Tom Vierhile said US consumers were also tiring of low-fat and low-calorie claims.
Accentuate the positive
He added: “Avoidance-type claims are becoming less popular. We’re seeing a big drop in the use of words like diet and dieting and companies are using words like zero which carry less baggage.
“We’re seeing a sea change where consumers are seeking out products more for what they contain and less for what they don’t contain.”
Meanwhile, interest in appetite control and satiety has not as yet translated into hard cash for the US food industry, he added. “Many of the most interesting innovations are coming from the UK, Germany and Asia.”
However, there were some interesting products now available in the US such as Abbott’s Glucerna Hunger Smart range, he said.
Portion control is key, but 100-calorie products not the only answer
According to a Datamonitor consumer survey conducted in 2010, 55% of American consumers are actively trying to lose weight while a further 22% are trying to maintain their weight, said Vierhile.
And many of them were trying to achieve this through an ‘ad hoc’ approach focusing on eating smaller portions or avoiding certain foods rather than adhering to a very strict diet, he added. However, this did not mean that the future remained bright for 100-calorie packs, growth in which was beginning to slow, he said.
“We think the slow down of 100-calorie products is going to force companies to look at other ways of controlling portions that are not necessarily so regimented.”
Shoppers are looking for more than reduced or light products
Fellow speaker Dr Roberta Re, section manager for nutrition and health at UK-based Leatherhead Food Research, agreed that shoppers on both sides of the Atlantic were now looking for “something more than a reduced or light product”.
She added: “The focus is now changing.”
Two ingredients to watch: Low temperature gelling methyl cellulose and okara
One ingredient that could have potential in the weight management market was Dow Chemical Company’s Satisfit, a soluble, low temperature gelling methyl cellulose which formed a gel mass in the stomach (as recorded via MRI images) that lingered for more than two hours, unlike conventional methylcellulose, which cleared the stomach rapidly, she said.
Another that was starting to attract interest as a satiety ingredient was okara, the high-protein, high-fiber insoluble pulp that remains when soy milk is extracted from soy beans, she said.
The Weight Management 2011 virtual conference and Expo featured speakers covering a wide range of topics from the merits of hoodia as an appetite-suppressant to the role of dairy in weight control. If you missed the conference, you can view the webinars on demand for the next three months.
Click here to find out more.