Why Major Brand's Sales are Falling - It's Good News!

Omelet with Eggs, Onions, Herbs
More consumers are turning to clean eating than ever before,
and it's seriously affecting product development and sales.

Clean eating is the newest buzz term that describes a diet consisting of mostly whole foods. While whole foods diets are not new, more people than ever are sending a clear message to Big Business that they want healthier, more simple products. Perhaps, you're one of them. If so, you'll be happy to know that major brands are scurrying to give you want you want.



Clean eating is a term that's defined in different ways, depending on which diet plan you're following. At it's basic level, it's taking on a complete new meaning: simple ingredients you can find in your own kitchen

For consumers, this is good news. Falling sales is sending a major signal to name brands to clean up their act or suffer an even further drops in sales.

The power of the mighty dollar is much stronger than most people think. When you vote with your cash, brands sit up and take notice.

It's not a party for one.

In fact, according to a recent article in Fortune magazine, overall food sales dropped by 4 billion dollars in market share last year due to the current buying trend of selecting organic and more natural alternatives.

If you care about the chemicals, preservatives, flavorings, and other strange ingredients that manufacturers have been putting into your food, the trend is starting to go your way. Manufacturers have to clean up their act, and fast, or suffer the consequences.



People are Blaming Big Business for Their Current Health


For a long time, the food industry has been adding more and more:
  • chemicals
  • food flavorings
  • colorings
  • GMO's
  • preservatives
and other junk you can't pronounce into your food, some of it so gross you really wouldn't want to know about it.

What started out as a healthy alternative to having to grow your own food in the backyard has now evolved into products that are mostly unrecognizable.

Since people are plagued with more illnesses and health problems today than in any other time in history, including obesity, a lot of people are blaming the food industry for their declining health.

While blame is never a wise idea, as it tends to paralyze action, people are not sitting around when it comes to spending their hard-earned dollars. That cash is still being spent, but not on products with ingredients that you wouldn't find in your own kitchen.

Grocery Store Display of Produce
More consumers are buying as much organic produce
as they can afford and reading food labels before they buy.


Instead, people are buying:
  • organic produce
  • frozen vegetables
  • natural canned goods
And sticking to the outside parameters of the store. Many are actually taking the time to read the list of ingredients on the package before they buy.

Clean eating is old news for many dieters, but it is a new trend for those who haven't been paying attention to what they eat or why. National brands like:
  • Kraft
  • ConAgra
  • Kelloggs
are taking a big hit in their pocketbook. In fact, according to a recent Washington Post article, profits for Kraft foods dropped by a whopping 62 percent last year. That's a strong kick in the gut that's sending Big Business a powerful message.

CostCo, Sprouts, and Walmart Neighborhood Grocery Makes Organic Affordable


Bowl of Lettuce Salad and Fruit Salad
Many major grocery stores are now making organic produce
easily available and more affordable for customers.

People aren't eating Oscar Mayer hot dogs, bologna, and Jello like they used to. Eating habits are changing, and the manufacturing companies are going to have to keep up with what their customers want or take a tumble.

Kraft Mac and Cheese or Kellogg's Rice Krispies are being tossed aside for cleaner choices, such as:
  • omelets
  • lettuce salads
  • Greek-style yogurt
Walmart Neighborhood grocery stores, Sprouts Farmers Market, and CostCo have put organics into the hands of consumers that couldn't afford to eat that way before.

Many major supermarkets are also sourcing their produce locally. Sustainable farming and small-time farmers who grow organic produce without it being certified organic are also in popular demand.

Small Farm in Winter
People are more likely to trust a small farm
than they are to support big brands.

In fact, customers are more inclined to support small farms today rather than trust their health to the larger corporations who have been putting their own bottom line before their customer's health for decades now.


What are Major Corporations Doing About It?


Just like one would expect, the downward trend is encouraging some of these companies to run around scooping up small-time natural and organic companies to add them to their portfolio.

For example:

ConAgra recently purchased Blakes All Natural Foods. Although that practice isn't bringing in the big bucks, it does get their feet wet in a market they have never seen much use for.

Other companies are going back to the drawing board.

Hershey's, for example, is in the process of getting rid of artificial and other non-kitchen ingredients in their original Hershey's milk chocolate bar and Hershey's Kisses. Although chocolate isn't a healthy food, nutrition-minded customers are still purchasing treats now and then.

Whole foods are what they're after, not perfection.

Hershey's sales have held stable during the recent decline, but they are looking ahead to what's bound to happen in the future.

Other companies are admitting that customers are buying more organic and natural foods these days, but they are only in the beginning of the process of re-evaluating what they're doing and planning out what adjustments they will have to make to survive the tide.

Keep in mind that Big Business is famous for keeping their plans secret and hidden until they make their move. There is no reason to expect otherwise, even with a whole foods market on the horizon.

My Take on What's Happening


Homemade Gluten Free Pepperoni and Bacon Pizza
Homemade gluten-free pizza is a lot of work,
so I can see the value in brands offering whole foods options.

One thing is for sure.

With the demand for healthy alternatives skyrocketing over the past few years, clean eating isn't a fad that's likely to fizzle out anytime soon.

People want food -- real food -- and not chemical soup. Major brands know that now. We've told them through our pocketbook.

I'm expecting some major changes in the processed foods market over the next few months and years.

For those trying to clean up their diets and go back to a more simplistic and mindful eating style, I'm seeing this as a good thing. Yes, you can shop the outside parameter of the grocery store and be fine. You don't need canned goods and processed crap in your life.

Fresher is always better.

You can cook from scratch and be a lot healthier since homestyle cooking lets you control what is really going into your meals.

We are gluten free, so I really get that.

But let's be honest.

Making everything from scratch isn't realistic. I have no interest in making my own ketchup, tomato paste, or homemade mayo. I've tried. Not only was that time consuming, but they were complete disasters. You can't always do at home what manufacturers can do with a large-scale production line.

In addition, going out to eat isn't usually an option for us, so we appreciate being able to have a box of certified gluten-free frozen pizza in the freezer for nights when we've spent all day running around and are too tired to cook when we get home.

I love CostCo's frozen organic and natural-style stir-fry veggies for nights when I've had to endure vertigo all day and need to cook a simple meal without having to think clearly. I also don't want to always have to make my own:
  • jam
  • applesauce
  • organic corn chips
  • or chopped green chilies
For us, that's real life.

When I was raising my kids, a whole foods diet wasn't what many people call clean eating today. It wasn't limited to only fresh ingredients. It included processed foods made of real food, with no additives or flavorings. I continue to use that definition today.

So what's your take on the latest trend?
Do you see it as a good thing or just more of the same?


References:

Fortune Magazine, "Special Report: the War on Big Food," by Beth Kowit, May 21, 2015.

Just-Food, "Focus: Will ConAgra sell own-label unit after Jana investment," by Katy Askew, June 22, 2015.

Washington Post, "Your healthy habits are eating into the packaged foods industry," by Sarah Halzack, February 13, 2015.


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