According to Freedom Foods, which makes a line of prebiotic, fiber-rich muesli and bars under the Barley+ brand, the rates of colorectal cancer are declining for adults older than 50, but in recent years they have ticked up very slightly among 20- to 39-year-olds.
In addition, younger adults are 58% more likely to be diagnosed with late stage colon cancer, which suggests the need for increased awareness among clinicians and the general public about the risks of the disease and strategies to prevent it, including consuming a healthy, high fiber diet and knowing one’s family history, Angelo De Blasio, the director of consumer marketing and innovation in North America for Freedom Foods, told FoodNavigator-USA.
“Experts believe that the increase among people aged 20 to 39 years could be linked the recent growth in carb free diets and the aversion to quality fiber and whole grains,” he claimed. “This consumer group is incredibly carb conscious because they believe a reduction in carbs would be able to trigger a reduction in weight.”
In reality, he said, some research done with Barley+ and consumers has shown that sustained consumption of quality whole grains and fiber can support a statistical reduction in body weight and BMI, and help reduce the risk of colon cancer.
With this in mind, De Blasio said, Freedom Foods' partnership with the Colon Cancer Foundation is targeted at Millennials and is focused on innovating and encouraging them to eat better by making better recipe and lifestyle choices.
It is doing this by sharing updated twists on favorite recipes, such as pancakes and chocolate chip cookies, where Barley+ muesli is swapped in as a key ingredient to boost the fiber content.
“The easy swap in of Barley+ gives consumers an adequate amount of whole grain intake so that they can actually significantly reduce their chances of colon cancer risk,” and help prevent this population health crisis, De Blasio said.
In a release, Cindy Borassi, the executive director of the Colon Cancer Foundation, praised the partnership as a way to reach younger consumers with the message that colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and one of the best ways to do so is with a fiber-rich diet.
Getting on shelf by going off shelf
Freedom Foods is also raising awareness for its Barley+ products as well as its line of Messy Monkeys snacks through other partnerships, including with retailers who are willing to skip the status quo when it comes to evaluating and displaying new products outside of the normal set review and shelving process.
“A big focus for us right now is wanting to partner with retailers who want to be a little bit disruptive and not go through the regular cycle of showing products in one category review,” De Blasio said.
For example, he explained, Freedom Foods is partnering with Target on the West Coast to pilot a healthy snacking segment that will include the company’s Messy Monkeys kids' snack brand.
The brand is one of seven better-for-you brands that Target has grouped together and of these it is the No. 2 selling brand – showing that Target’s primary shopper, who is busy moms, is interested in nutritious options that she can quickly grab on-the-go while running other errands.
Similarly, Freedom Foods is testing a free-standing shipper with the Albertsons’ subsidiary Acme Markets, which allows the retailer to showcase new products from Messy Monkeys ahead of summer to capitalize on picnics during the warm months and as precursor for back-to-school when families are looking for snacks to add to lunches.
“We are quite excited about this partnership and that it can happen ahead of the category review period,” De Blasio said. He explained that while “category reviews are obviously quite ridged, this initiative with the shipper display case allows retailers to move the product off the shelf and essentially get it in their stores earlier.”
Building consumer awareness on the festival circuit
To support both partnerships, Freedom Foods is hitting the road with another partner to raise consumer awareness of the brands and the health benefits they offer.
Starting in March, Freedom Foods will visit 10 cities as part of The Nourished Festival, previously known as the Gluten-Free and Allergen-Friendly Expo, which recently rebranded in order to appeal to more than just consumers suffering from Celiac disease and other severe allergies.
De Blasio explained that the rebranded Festival, much like Messy Monkeys and Freedom Foods’ heritage gluten-free cereal line, appeal beyond allergy suffers to anyone who wants to follow a healthier lifestyle, including a plant-based focus.
To help catch consumers’ attention at the show, Freedom Foods will sponsor a ‘Kids’ Zone’ at the show and have Messy Monkeys’ branded corn hole and a coloring station and activities for children.
“At a lot of these Expos, mums will walk around and the poor kid gets so tired. But this way there will be some fun for them,” and the brand can show parents that it is a trustworthy partner in caring for their young ones, De Blasio said.
Reflecting on all the partnerships in which Freedom Foods is currently engaged as well as success it has had with them in the past De Blasio said that “through the art of collaboration and new exchanges, such as many of these partnership, we are saving money and delivering on a bigger opportunity” to raise awareness for all the parties involved.