Soaring packaged food sales gives industry three healthier options: Euromonitor

© iStock/adisa

In some European countries, calorie intake from packaged food is four times greater than for fresh - a golden opportunity for industry to make processed food healthier in one of three ways, says one Euromonitor analyst.

Market researchers at Euromonitor looked at consumption data for 54 countries in both developed and developing regions and broke down the calorie intake according to category, looking at fresh food, packaged food, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks.

Belgium purchases the most calories globally with an average total of 2,597 kcal per capita per day, followed by Brazil, the UK, Russia and then the US.

In 2015, 85% of researched countries consumed more calories from packaged food as opposed to fresh food, while of the countries the market research company tracks, India purchases fewest calories (762 kcal per capita per day).

“The rule of thumb is that the more economically advanced the country the more dependent on convenience foods it is," nutrition analyst at Euromonitor International Sara Petersson said. "Therefore, we see in our data that packaged foods dominate in terms of calories consumed as opposed to fresh foods primarily in developed markets.”

Three ways to make your packaged portfolio healthier 

But this is not necessarily a bad thing for public health, says Petersson, who sees it as an opportunity for industry to make packaged food healthier.

In essence manufactures have three ways to go: they can maintain the product recipe and reduce the size which - as we have seen in the recent news – comes with a risk of consumer backlash and being accused of ‘ripping people off’," she told FoodNavigator.

Food packaging analysts at Euromonitor have also found that in some cases, reducing packaging size can actually promote an increase in volume sales, meaning downsizing is not always effective in cutting consumption. 

“Secondly, they can reformulate, which can be more or less tricky depending on product category. Food and drink manufactures reduce the sugar, salt or fat content all the time. Often, if the taste changes significantly, this leads to a drop in sales. This is not to say that the consumer is suddenly eating any better. Instead, they often turn to other similar products, which satisfy their craving. For real change in consumption to occur, we would need all brands to reformulate equally.

“Lastly, manufacturers can invest in healthier food and drink categories. In developed markets there is a definite move away from sweet snacks such as cakes, biscuits, or chocolate confectionery. We’re seeing an increasing movement of food manufacturers, who mostly focus on sweet foods, investing into healthier and/or savoury products.”

Recently there have been a number of examples of firms doing this. General Mills acquired Epic bars and PepsiCo tried to buy Chobani in 2016.

Last year French dairy giant Danone bought WhiteWave in a $12.5bn (€11.7bn) deal to strengthen its presence in plant-based and organic food categories.

The drive to make portfolios healthier is even being felt in the confectionery category.

The market research firm says the healthy chocolate category – which includes fortified, functional, organic, reduced fat and sugar chocolate, is set to grow at twice the pace of the regular category over the next four years, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +2.6%, compared to a +1.3% for the 2016 to 2021 period.

In 2015, meanwhile, Hershey acquired meat jerky brand Krave.

A global push towards healthy is needed

But do rising obesity rates suggest that healthy reformulation is not happening fast enough? Yes and no, says Pettersson.

The food and drink industry is dealing with a lot of pressure from governments, and both semi-enforced and voluntary reformulations are certainly happening. They could occur faster but, more importantly, they should occur on a more global scale and in a more standardized way" she says.

“As long as there is an alternative providing the consumer with what they want, that is what they will go for. On the other hand, removing all ‘unhealthy’ options from the market seems a bit extreme - consumers want choice.”

Related News

Hershey launched SoFit in 2016. Picture: Hershey.

Manufacturers to develop confectionery with vegetables for a healthier halo

A combination of saturated markets and slow population growth is putting pressure on the packaged food industry, say analysts

Sluggish growth predicted for global packaged foods markets

Innovations in packaging could boost fresh food sales in developed markets, says Euromonitor © iStock

Middle East & Africa beat 'lacklustre' Europe for fresh food sales in 2015: Euromonitor

Turkish people eat more than three times their own body weight in bread annually, says Mintel - good news for European bakers.

Rising packaged food sales make Turkey top export destination

Value shares of private label have been dropping rapidly – particularly in countries such as Spain where private label brands such as Mercadona has traditionally been strongest. ©iStock

'A new scenario for packaged food in Europe' - private label growth falls in Europe

Chilled pasta took 28% of the total Western European pasta market last year, compared to 25% five years earlier

Packaged food sales increase in ‘two-speed’ Western Europe

Related Products

See more related products

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.