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Realities of Recessionary Eating

So where do healthy foods fit in a tight economy?

What is the consumer cutting out of their purchases? Is “healthy” deep-sixed in favor of survival? These are questions being asked on the internet and other media. Every day brings one more research report or trend interpretation. The media types love it, but it just confuses consumers.

A quick review of the information out there tends to trigger more questions. We know consumers are cutting back on food expenses, and sales of foods perceived as “healthy” can be a target. But, there is evidence that the so-called “designer” foods are more likely to be cut in favor of foods with defensible health benefits. Foods with nutrient density may be surviving the cut. Add the need for satisfaction and taste and a food is likely to stay on the menu!

For those consumers shopping for health, fewer ingredients and understandable terms are primary motivators. There are reasons to be proactive and here are some thoughts from this RD!

• Know your target markets, and use basic marketing and nutrition education. They should meet consumer needs just as pricing, promotion, placement and product. Sound familiar?

• Focus on the basics. What are the benefits of buying foods that meet organic standards or fit the current accepted profile of “healthy”? These are likely to be foods with fewer ingredients and ones that can be defended on the health scale for return on investment.

• Focus on basic foods. Think in terms of helping people include foods that contribute to a varied diet built on MyPyramid and food groups.