Food waste, "mini-meals" and veganism may be 2013’s health trends

SANTA ANA
December 27, 2012 5:20am
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•  Is Wheaties the bellwether?

•  “Our 2013 findings are consistent with the growing importance of health in America”


Americans will be more aware of wasting food in the New Year – one of five health trends predicted by the Values Institute at DGWB, which describes itself as a social science research entity housed at DGWB Advertising & Communications in Santa Ana.

The other trends it sees:

• Mini-meals

• Gluten-free products and

• Mainstream veganism

• Workplace wellness

The Values Institute says it used observational studies to identify what it sees as the top health and wellness trends that Americans are most likely to embrace in 2013. The list, now in its second year, is an extension of its work in values-based marketing and social entrepreneurialism and long-term partnership with the research firm Iconoculture of Minneapolis, Minn.

"Our 2013 findings are consistent with the growing importance of health in America -- if not yet as a daily routine then certainly as a primary goal for three out of four consumers," says Mike Weisman, president of the Values Institute at DGWB. "More than ever, health is the new prestige barometer -- meaning that most Americans would rather be called healthy than wealthy.

Drilldown:

The top five consumer health trends for 2013 will be:

1. Food waste consciousness. A recent Eco Pulse survey found that 39 percent of Americans feel guilty about trashing food, more so than any other "green" sin. Some waste is unavoidable, though, and communities and corporations alike are converting compostable scraps into disposable cash. Marin County has begun processing wasted food from local groceries and restaurants to generate electricity, and Starbucks has found a way to recycle coffee grounds and baked goods into laundry detergent, says the report. Meanwhile, new mobile apps like Love Food Hate Waste help consumers plan meals from leftovers and manage portion size.

2. Wellness in the workplace. Employers are realizing that working health into the corporate agenda benefits waistlines and bottom lines, claims the Values Institute. With healthcare costs expected to rise by 7 percent, companies are improving employees' health (and minimizing healthcare expenditures) by adding wellness programs. Plan on seeing more discounted gym memberships, group Weight Watchers accountability plans, and active design workspaces this year. The National Business Group on Health found that 48 percent of companies surveyed plan to use incentives to get workers involved in wellness in 2013.

3. Mini-meals and snacking. As the snacking trend continues, new research shows that those who eat between meals tend to have healthier diets. FastCasual.com reports that snacks make up one out of every five eating occasions in the U.S. Especially prevalent is the advent of multiple "mini-meals" in place of the standard three squares a day, the report says. Quick Lean Cuisine salad options, probiotic nuts, and the ubiquitous cup of frozen yogurt with fruit are slowly replacing breakfast, lunch and dinner. Expect to see this trend continue and usher in a new standard for convenient, healthy snack foods beyond the 100-calorie Oreo pack.

4. Meatless mainstreaming: Last year's rise of “flexitarians” – vegetarians who occasionally eat meat -- is foreshadowing a trend toward meatless eating and outright veganism, vegetarianism's older brother. No longer reserved for the hip in Hollywood, going vegan is being embraced as a viable health alternative, says the report. Even professional athletes like Venus Williams and Arian Foster, whose bodies are their livelihood, have made the switch. Merit-badge consumers seeking exotic natural ingredients like jackfruit and quinoa have helped turn the tide, especially as increasingly popular Asian and Indian flavor profiles eschew animal products. Look for herbivore-accommodating menus at restaurants on both coasts to start migrating to mid-America in 2013.

5. Going against the grain. The past year saw an influx of gluten-free products as everyone and their brother is shunning their Wheaties, claims the report. (Wheaties sales have been declining for several years according to other reports.) Gluten has joined carbohydrates and corn syrup as the newest ingredient Americans love to leave out. While some experts see this as self-diagnosis gone awry, consumers increasingly see the "GF" logo as a guide to healthier eating. From grocery stores to gastro-pubs to brands like Betty Crocker to Domino's, the food industry is taking advantage of this new, not-so-niche need.

"Certainly, this trend will have major implications for marketers and retailers looking to sway consumer opinion in 2013 and beyond," says Mr. Weisman.


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