3 Current Trends of Health Food Stores
Today’s consumer is on trend with foods that contribute to good nutrition, health, fitness and a long life. The health food market is the fastest growing sector in food and agriculture today, rising at a rate estimated at about 30% each year. And nothing seems to suggest it will slow down any time soon. Consumers are more willing to pay the extra cost for foods that contribute to their health and well-being, are lower in calories, fillers, sugars, preservatives and other ingredients they no longer want in their diets.
Concern continues to grow over the negative impact of certain food additives such as dyes, preservatives and other means used to improve the longevity and appeal of foods on the grocery shelves. More and more people are also finding themselves with food allergies, such as gluten intolerance, causing them to turn away from products made with wheat and so producing a new market for wheat-free goods. Although it might be argued that consumers are a fickle lot, the choice to better food for a better life seems to be moving full steam ahead.
1. Health food stores have a lot to offer
People are associating good food with good health, even going to extremes with specialized diets that eschew wheat, dairy, red meat and other traditional food products. Health food stores have moved to fill the gap, offering foods such as soy-based, vegetarian and vegan options. For the growing number of people with food allergies, health food stores are also a good choice offering foods made without preservatives, coloring agents, wheat, dairy or other products that trigger allergic reactions.
2. Outcompeting traditional food stores
Health food stores are taking a big bite out of the competition from traditional big box food stores. So are small producers of natural and organic foods, who often sell their wares in health food stores. Big business is fighting back, looking to regain market share with the surge in interest in eating better. Huge multi-nationals such as General Mills, for example, are now producing products for health-conscious consumers.
General Mills now sells wheat-free Cheerios and other breakfast cereals, hoping to cash in on consumer sensitivities to gluten. But are they too late? Research suggests that the health food industry is on track to become a trillion dollar market. And consumers seem to prefer to make their purchases through health food stores they perceive—rightly or wrongly—are not tainted by questionable big business practices.
3. Future healthy for health food stores
For those who require specialized food choices due to allergies and other sensitivities, the unprecedented growth in health food stores and their offerings will be seen as a good news story. Health food offerings of natural, organic and specialized food items are growing at almost fantastic rates.
Consumers who want or need to pay close attention to what they eat will find that health food stores offer a competitive range of foods at prices that are only marginally more expensive than a traditional grocery store. And with growing demand, those prices will only fall and food choices and options will likely only continue to rise.