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Are Natural Foods Really Trending?

from the publisher

So are natural and healthy foods really that important to the average consumer shopping at international supermarkets across the world? Statistics show that U.S. exports of natural and healthy foods are now well into the tens of billions and growing! Sounds great but it’s not necessarily translating into healthier populations. Obesity and diabetes are on the rise…especially in the Middle East and Europe. My unscientific observation after years of traveling to Asia, Europe and the Middle East...concurs with the studies I’ve read. And the biggest weight gain I’ve seen is amongst the younger generation! They have been exposed to the most plentiful varieties of fast foods and processed foods. The older generations still maintain eating habits that are reflected in the time they grew up…less consumption and less junk food.

But times have changed. Farming techniques overseas have caught up with our world class system meaning more food and agricultural goods are produced in-country. Combine that with increased importing of products from other countries…the consumer has a plethora of items they can choose from that resembles supermarkets in the United States. However, these same regions have also succeeded in importing something else that is very American…the fast food restaurant. And it doesn’t matter where you are at…they’re everywhere! Combine that with the emergence of the convenience store and you have a recipe for less then healthy eating. Don’t get me wrong…I love walking down the street in Shanghai to a Family Mart convenience store for a quick snack and other items. Makes things easy. But places like Shanghai and Dubai are fast paced and the people don’t have time to prepare their own meals at home. The convenience store and processed foods they sell become the de facto dinner for many. So those health issues we see here in the U.S. are showing up in people all over the world.

The American consumer is well aware of things like preservatives, corn syrup and sugar. The industries behind diet systems, exercise programs and holistic nutrition are big business. They’ve become big business because there is demand as well as success. Health issues associated with poor eating choices are showing up across the world. So these industries are starting to gain traction in countries like China with the emphasis on eating healthy and natural. You can find natural and organic food products everywhere. The Chinese consumer looks to see if the product is Non-GMO or gluten free. They read the labels for calorie and carbohydrate content. If products are not chemical and pesticide free, most Asian consumers aren’t interested….natural and organic is huge!

So now back to my earlier question…are natural and healthy foods really that important? To answer that I have to address another question…how important are these foods to the average U.S. consumer? According to the Washington Post…over $400 billion worth of organic and natural food items were sold last year according to data from market research firm Nielsen. With our health and wellness issues now catching up to the world at large…it’s safe to say that natural/healthy foods have a bright future in the country near you! And with that, I will see you at the Natural Product Expo West in Anaheim.


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