Healthy Foods Top 2011 Food Trends

Archer Farms Simply Balanced healthy food brand from Target includes convenient rice and pasta meal kits. Front labels feature nutritional facts under the tag line: “Simply Nutritious, Simply Delicious.”

Consumer researchers and food business analysts predict 2011 will be the year that American consumers embrace more healthful eating habits. Private brand retailers are responding with more nutritious food options.

According to a new report entitled Healthy Eating Strategies by Generation from the NPD Group, a market research firm: The nutritional value of foods is front and center with many adults. Almost 85 million adults ranked nutritional value/ healthful as #1 or #2 in importance as a need driver in deciding what to eat and drink; taste and price/value are in the top three for the younger generations. For older consumers, freshness replaces price/value in ranked importance. The report draws upon NPD’s continual tracking of actual consumption behavior over the past three decades.

  • According to Phil Lempert, editor in chief, Facts, Figures, & the Future: The updated USDA dietary guidelines – in conjunction with technological advancements and the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” program – will mark 2011 as the year that finally empowers Americans to make permanent, positive changes in their diets. People will stop lasering in on single nutrients and begin approaching food more holistically. Shoppers will circle the aisles seeking foods rich in substance, vitamins, minerals and, of course taste.
  • According to a new report from Global Industry Analysts, entitled Whole Grain and High Fiber Foods: A Global Strategic Business Report, the global market for whole grain and high fiber food will be worth $24 billion by 2015 as consumers become increasingly health and fitness conscious. GIA named the United States as the largest regional market for whole grain and high fiber foods, and said its dominance is likely to continue, especially with the increase adoption of whole grain wheat, barley, rice, and specialty grains. Cereal is the largest segment of the whole grain and high fiber market. 35% of global cereal launches in 2009 claimed to be functional cereals with health benefits – and use of whole grains was one of the year’s most popular cereal claims, alongside reduced fat and sugar. Highlights of the GIA report were found on the Food website.
  • According to the Nutrition-wise blog from, “The search for the next super food,” is one of the top food trends for 2011. “Baby boomers don’t just want functional foods, they want super foods – foods that supply nutrients to help preserve vitality and delay aging. The search for the next great super food is already in progress. Let me save you some time – visit your produce aisle and you’ll find an abundance of super foods,” says the Mayo Clinic nutritionist.

Walmart Canada Debuts Wholesome Goodness

Wholesome Goodness includes a large selection of fruit and nut snacks including Yukon Snack Mix. Nutritional information on the package lets the consumer know the snack mix is a source of fibre, low in sodium, and a source of Iron. The logo of a heart appears in a circle surrounded by the brand’s motto: simple, naturally delicious.

In November 2010, Walmart Canada, Mississauga, ON, announced that it had become the exclusive Canadian supplier of a new line of healthy foods called Wholesome Goodness.

“Walmart Canada continues to present leading-edge products to its customers,” explained Les Mann, senior vice president of food and consumables. “We are very excited to now offer up to 80 Wholesome Goodness products made with natural ingredients and ranging from snack foods to hot and cold cereal, to salad dressings and pasta sauces at select supercentre locations across the country.”

According to the Walmart Canada press release, this initiative is the latest announcement in a series of commitments from the company to offering healthier and more sustainable foods for Canadians. In October 2010, Walmart Canada committed to purchase 30 percent of its produce assortment locally on an annual basis by December 31, 2013 and to purchase 100 percent of their assortment when local produce is available. Walmart Canada announced a sustainable seafood commitment in March 2010 where it will only sell certified sustainable fish by the end of 2013. It will also require sustainably sourced palm oil in its private label products by the end of 2015.

Wholesome Goodness is an American-based company with headquarters in Long Grove, IL. Dr. David Katz serves as an advisor to Wholesome Goodness and serves as the company’s nutrition conscience.

Dr. Katz is a nationally recognized authority on nutrition and he led the team of nutrition and medical experts that developed the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System employed at point-of-sale by a number of Topco retail members.
(Editor’s Note: For more information on the launch of Wholesome Goodness, see Packaging Design column by Perry Seelert in this issue on page 77.)

Wegmans Expands Super Food Lines

Wegmans serves up gourmet flavors in its Food You Feel Good About line of soups and stocks. Seen here are Thai Culinary Stock and Roasted Red Pepper Soup; both made with all-natural ingredients.

FYFGA condiments and dressings feature nutritional icons on package fronts. The label for the Roasted Red Pepper Dressing declares it is Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Vegan, and Low Calorie.

Following the launch of its Organic Blended Super Yogurt line under its FYFGA sub-brand in 2008, Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, NY, has just introduced Organic Fruit-on-the-Bottom Super Yogurt. “This addition addresses concerns of some customers about the Blended Super Yogurt,” notes Mary Ellen Burris, senior vice president of consumer affairs. “We heard from vegetarians about the presence of ingredients not acceptable to them; so the new line is 100% vegetarian (no fish oil or beef gelatin). The heart-healthy omega-3s include 445-50 mg of DHA extracted from a flavorless, plant-based source (algae). A new plain yogurt included in this line has only 90 calories and no added sugar, also a customer concern with the blended yogurt.”

Burris points out that “What makes a Super Yogurt is the addition of pre- and pro-biotics that may support the immune system and healthy digestion.”

In keeping with the mission of organics to support sustainable products, the milk for these yogurt products are locally sourced and comes from USDA organic-certified dairy farms, all located within a 30-mile radius of the dairy plants in Upstate New York.

Another Super FYFGA food line that recently made its debut in Wegmans stores is Super Pasta. It began appearing in stores in time for Labor Day 2010.

It comes in five varieties – spaghetti, thin spaghetti, penne rigate, spirals and elbows.

“We wanted a whole-grain pasta that everyone in the family would like – including kids and others who haven’t liked the taste or texture of whole wheat pastas,” said Wegmans nutrition and product labeling manager Jane Andrews.

“We also thought it should have important nutrients that are often in short supply in many people’s diets, especially growing children’s. Many studies show that most of us can benefit from extra calcium, vitamin D, and ALA omega 3-s, so we added them.”

One of the new pasta’s most important nutritional advantages is extra fiber, Andrews added. “Super Pasta has fiber from whole grains, as well as some resistant starch, a kind of fiber that comes from corn. Both types slow down the rate of digestion, so you feel fuller longer, and the rise in blood sugar is more gradual and sustained. That’s good for everybody, but especially for people with diabetes.”

Wegmans also offers a healthy foods educational program — “Eat Well Live Well” tours of its stores for fourth graders. The program has been going for 20 years now; 17,000 students took part last year, and 208,000 in all have done so since 1991. Stops include the produce, dairy, bakery, meat and seafood departments, and students get to taste samples of nutritious foods.

“When you teach kids about how foods are made, it makes things more interesting to them and they may be more open to trying something new,” says Wegmans corporate nutritionist Trish Kazacos. “Eating many kinds of healthful foods and being adventurous about trying new ones is one of the key messages we want to get across.”
In recent years, many retailers have introduced healthy food lines under their store brand, but Wegmans holds the distinction of being in the forefront with launch of Food You Feel Good About in 1991 in the bakery department.

Fresh & Easy Cooks Up EatWell Convenience Foods

“Customers told us that they wanted better, more wholesome choices, so we created our new line of eatwell prepared items,” says the website of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, El Segundo, CA. “Each of these delicious items contains 25% or less of the recommended daily value for calories, total and saturated fat, and sodium. To keep things simple, our eatwell products have easy-to-read nutritional information labeled on the front of the package. And like all fresh&easy products, these new soups, salads, sandwiches, ready meals and sushi are made with no artificial colors or flavors and no added trans fats.”

The new line that was introduced last year under the fresh & easy kitchen label as refrigerated items have recently been extended to include frozen eatwell meals.

Also new in Fresh & Easy stores is a new private brand line of healthy foods for children called Goodness for Kids. The packaged food line includes Honey O’s organic cereal, organic applesauce, meatball & pasta meals, mac & cheese, diced yellow cling peach cups, and fruit juice blends.

Says the retailer on its website: “You asked for better lunches for your kids. So we made it easy for you with our fresh&easy goodness items. Your kids will love the taste, and you’ll love giving them meals made with wholesome, natural ingredients such as whole grains, fruits and veggies.

“Made with care, all of our fresh&easy goodness items contain:

  • No artificial sweeteners,
  • No added caffeine,
  • A limited amount of sugar, sodium and fat.”

A subsidiary of Tesco, based in the UK, Fresh & Easy Market opened its first store in the U.S. in November 2007 and has since grown to a force of about 170 stores located in Arizona, California, and Nevada.

WFM Launches Health Start Here

Wholesome Goodness includes a large selection of fruit and nut snacks including Yukon Snack Mix. Nutritional information on the package lets the consumer know the snack mix is a source of fibre, low in sodium, and a source of Iron. The logo of a heart appears in a circle surrounded by the brand’s motto: simple, naturally delicious.

In a January 2011 press release, Whole Foods Market, Austin, TX, provided the details of its new Health Starts Here Program:

“Just in time for the New Year’s focus on health, Whole Foods Market announces its 303 stores now feature its new Health Starts Here program, offering products, education, practical tools and wellness resources to promote healthy lifestyles.”

According to the retailer, Health Starts Here is an approach to healthy eating, rooted in four principles:

Whole Food: choose whole, fresh, natural and organic foods that are not refined or highly processed.

Plant-Strong*: reconfigure your plate and incorporate more fruits, vegetable, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes into every meal.

Nutrient Dense: make every bite count with foods that contain the most nutrients per calorie.

Healthy Fat: get healthy fats from whole plant foods like nuts, avocados and seeds.

*Plant-strong is a trademark of Engine 2 For Life and used, under license, by Whole Foods Market.

“As is repeatedly reported in scientific studies, this past year the Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, and nuts and seeds to promote health and help reduce the risk of chronic disease,” says the retailer.

“The link between food and health is clear. Health Starts Here can help turn New Year’s resolutions into long-term health and wellness solutions,” said Margaret Wittenberg, global vice president of quality standards and healthy eating at Whole Foods Market.

Some major initiatives and offerings include:

  • Health Starts Here Prepared Foods: rolling out in the prepared foods departments of all Whole Foods Market stores, these convenient sides, salads, snacks and ready-to-cook entrée options are made with whole, fresh, nutrient-dense foods that incorporate more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
  • Health Starts Here Sprouted Grain Breads: rolling out in the bakery department of all Whole Foods Market stores, these hearty, healthy, delicious breads are made with 100 percent whole grains and contain no refined flours, added oil, refined sugars or processed ingredients.
  • In-Store Healthy Eating Point Person: an informational resource for shoppers offering hands-on support through store tours and food demos to help shoppers learn more about how simple and delicious healthy eating can be.
  • New Health Starts Here Frozen Vegetables: nutritious as a convenient side or as an affordable entrée.

Health Starts Here is a new line of healthy foods under WFM’s 365 Everyday Value brand. Seen here are 365 Leafy Greens and Collard Greens. Call-outs on front labels say: see back of bag for a healthy starts here recipe.

“Health Starts Here is not about depravation or counting calories, it’s about reconfiguring your plate, adding more fruits, vegetable, legumes and whole grains,” said Wittenberg, “By offering in-depth information, education and services to help support healthy lifestyle changes, we are going beyond just selling healthy foods but also taking action to help provide practical and delicious solutions to diet-related issues in today’s society. We’ve also formed a team of special medical doctors, nutritionists, chefs and other experts to continue to promote health and healthy eating education.”

Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that an emphasis on plant foods is a common feature of several distinct dietary patterns associated with health benefits, including lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 data, only 38 percent of men and 39 percent of women eat enough fruit, and six percent of men and four percent of women eat enough vegetables, which is far below optimal levels.

In a separate January 2011, press release, Whole Foods Market announced the introduction eight nutritious frozen vegetable blends, developed specifically under its Health Starts Here program guidelines, “to offer shoppers more affordable, convenient ways to support a healthy lifestyle.”

Launched under the company’s 365 Everyday Value brand, “the new line offers a host of vibrant flavor combinations that are free of added sodium, artificial preservatives, additives, or sweeteners.”

According to the press announcement:

Each sixteen-ounce package also features a Health Starts Here recipe for even more ways to enjoy these choices.
“With these ready-to-go bags, you don’t need to plan for prep time—they’re already primed for a quick and healthy side or entrée every day of the week,” said Chad Sarno, global Health Starts Here program coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “Flash freezing vegetables preserves their fresh taste, which means our shoppers can enjoy that just-picked taste year-round.”

The new frozen vegetables are available at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide at the suggested price of $1.99:
Garden Blend: a rich medley of carrots, broccoli and sugar snap peas provide an excellent source of vitamins C
and A.

Four Seasons Blend: sugar snap peas, yellow squash, carrots and corn deliver a colorful dose of vitamin A.
Harvest Blend: green peas, carrots, kale and corn offer an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of fiber.
Soup and Stew Blend: a mix of spinach, asparagus, mushrooms and red potatoes pack a nutrient punch.
Beans and Greens Blend: kidney beans, Great Northern beans and kale join forces for a delicious source of iron and fiber.

Blue Curled Kale: leafy green packed with a wealth of nutrients like immune-boosting carotenoid and powerful phytochemicals.

Collard Greens: bursting with vital nutrients, these greens offer sturdy full-flavored leaves with a pleasing cabbage-like taste.

Leafy Greens: collards, kale and mustard greens offer an excellent source of vitamin A.

“These blends make creating delicious, nutrient-rich meals like soups, stews and chili, brown rice pilaf, quinoa with tofu or pasta a snap,” added Sarno. “They’re also affordable and convenient since you don’t have to worry about any spoilage."

Safeway’s Eating Right line employs colorful nutritional Spots on front labels. Below: Eating Right Kids feature Warner Bros Looney Tunes characters on package fronts.

Eating Right: Spot-on Healthy

Launched in 2007, this private brand healthy food lines has grown to include 250 offerings as well as a sub-brand of healthy foods for kids.

It’s been four years since Pleasanton, California-based Safeway introduced its Eating Right line of healthy “spots” products. This retailing giant took private label in a new direction by offering shoppers more than good products at a good value. The Eating Right line attempts to help consumers buy healthier packaged food options. Each product has been created to optimize health whether it is low calorie, high fiber or low cholesterol. Today the line now includes over 250 products in over 20 categories across the store. As Safeway says, “[there are] choices for every member of your family and for every meal of the day. So you can eat smart from breakfast to dinner, and snack time, too!”

Seeing Spots

Bright white packages with a green and white Eating Right logo, attractive product photo, and a colored spot system make these products stand out on store shelves, freezer cases and even the produce aisle.

Shoppers can identify which products fit into their diets with the Spot Your Needs system. This “consists of color-coded spots that correspond to a specific dietary attribute. You’ll find the spots on the front and back of every Eating Right package.” Each product has at least one spot on the package, for example, a red circle indicates a whole grain product, a light blue means low fat, yellow means low cholesterol.

In 2008, Safeway expanded the Eating Right line with Eating Right Kids. The line extension was created to give caregivers healthy products that kids want to eat. Each product uses the same spot system but the kid’s packages feature Warner Bros. Looney Tunes characters: Bugs Bunny, Tweety, Taz, Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote, Roadrunner, Marvin the Martian and Daffy Duck. Safeway says, “The whole Looney Tunes gang is ready to get kids eating right with games and activities right on the packages!”

When the endorsement deal was signed Warner Bros. said “it will no longer feature its Looney Tunes characters on less-healthy food packaging….” The company wanted to find a way to use its popular characters as a way to improve child nutrition.

Kid friendly products include fruit punch and watermelon flavored apple sauces with Pepe Le Pew and Tweety Bird, four types of canned pasta with Daffy Duck and friends wearing chef toques and dried pastas shaped like bugs. Eating Right Kids also has six different lunch packs all featuring a different character.

Today Eating Right is in every aisle. Consumers can start their shopping in the produce section and pick up Eating Right branded carrots and top them with five different types of Eating Right dressings including a new Balsamic vinaigrette in a spritzer bottle at $2.49 and Italian Parmesan cheese at $2.99. As they travel through the store, they will find breakfast cereals and bars, dried soups, pasta, snacks such as soy crisps, 3.5 ounce bags are priced at $2.19 in three flavors, sea salt, barbeque and sour cream and onion. Further on there are zero calorie vitamin waters at $1.00 each in five flavors, juice boxes for the kids, and 100 calorie snack bars. In the freezer section there are lean pockets each box has 2, 4 ounce sandwiches priced 5 for $10.00 in five varieties. From frozen snacks consumers can find low fat waffles and multigrain mini pancakes.

There are also over two dozen Eating Right lean meals to compare with Lean Cuisine priced 5 for $10.00 and finally end their shopping with an Eating Right ice cream treat.

The growth of this unique line pairs well with consumer needs to save money in a tighter economy and eat healthier. Shoppers pressed for time and who also have picky eaters and lack luster cooking skills are seeking packaged food options to help them feed their families. And with new products showing up regularly on shelves, consumers will be seeing these healthy spots for years to come.

Editor’s Note: In 2008, Safeway formed the Better Living Brands Alliance to market its O Organics and Eating Right brands to other retail channels including foodservice both in the United States and internationally.

246, January 2011, PLINT3315, Cover Story