Wholesome Is The ‘New Healthy’ In Food Innovations

The way brands are approaching health considerations in their food innovations and NPDs is changing. This is due to a clear shift in consumer attitudes towards what is now believed to be healthy in food.

Over the last decade or so, when trying to make foods healthier companies have looked at what they can take out: reducing salt, sugar and fat and removing additives and preservatives. Then they moved on to look at what they could include: adding vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D and calcium. Brands like BirdsEye led the way with the launch of omega 3 fish fingers in 2007.

Omega Birdseye fish fingers

So, what’s happening now?

Rather than adding nutrients, new food innovations are focusing on making their ingredients as nutritious and wholesome as possible. Again, BirdsEye is a front runner in this trend with the introduction of wholegrain fish fingers.

wholegrain fish fingers

It is not alone though. Here are a couple more examples: Tilda who has introduced 3 new wholegrain rice products and Liberté who has launched a yogurt with seeds and mixed berries. 

Tilda brown basmati and wild rice


Why is this happening?

Consumers are more aware of the composition of food than ever before. They know that if you take something out you need to put something in, and that ‘something’ is probably not going to be good for you. For example, reducing fat means increasing sugar or reducing sugar will mean the use of artificial sweeteners. People are no longer happy with this trade off so are looking for more nutritionally sound options. Food that isn’t “tampered” with but is energy giving, filling and natural. This means that trends are moving towards sustainable lifestyle diets like Paleo rather than faddy extreme diets such as Atkins. When we talk to consumers we are hearing more and more about nutritional value, not wanting empty calories and looking for ‘unplayed with’ options.

What does this mean for you and your brand?

  • Ensure you understand what healthy means for your consumers. Is it nutritional goodness? No artificial ingredients? Fresh? Ingredient quality? An original recipe?
  • Is it more about communicating the relevant benefits your products already have? For example, are you missing a trick if your product contains wholegrain but this isn’t clearly called out?
  • If a new product is needed, how different to the original does it have to be? BirdsEye simply switched to wholegrain breadcrumbs – what is your product’s simple switch?

It seems that less is no longer more for consumers when it comes to healthy food. Wholesome food has arrived and it’s something your brands need to start taking account of in their innovations if they want to be considered healthy in the future.