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Some Pre-show Stats

Some Pre-show Stats

The last time I attended Deli-Dairy-Bake was in 2004, just before I started reporting full time on natural and organic foods, and sustainability.

A lot has happened to these categories in the interim, though I don’t expect to feel shocked. Certainly I expect to see a number of vendors touting health claims. During the past six years, the emphasis on health and wellness has become almost universal. Whether it’s a frozen entree with less sodium or gluten-free chocolate cake, all food manufacturers know that “healthy” and “better for you” sell. One recent report states that sales of these types of products reached $125 billion last year.

Before departing for Houston, I had the chance to thumb through the IDDBA’s What’s in Store yearbook. This annual compendium of statistics and trends has a lot to say about the growing role wellness is playing in these critical fresh departments.

Deli: Many deli cases include low-sodium option, and the prepared meals displays now include signage pointing out items that are heart-healthy, diabetic-friendly or fat-free. Technomic, the food service consulting firm, found these terms most popular with consumers: Grilled (63%); Fresh (59%); Baked (55%); Whole Grain (48%); and Roasted and/or Steamed (44%).

Dairy: Where to start? There’s milk with omega-3, yogurt with probiotics and orange juice with calcium. The dairy department is home to some key gateway products for those adopting a healthier diet, particularly fluid dairy. Organic milk sales have steadily grown (thanks in large part to private-label pricing strategies) to the point where Euromonitor predicts U.S. sales of organic dairy products will grow some 57% through 2011, to reach $4.5 billion.

Bakery: The ISB’s role in health and wellness can be summed up with two concepts: gluten-free and whole grain. Sales of gluten-free products are expected to reach $1.7 billion this year, according to, up from a mere $210 million in 2001. Most stores today offer at least eight feet of commercial bread, mixes and baking goods, and there’s a growing number of artisan breads, muffins and cakes that are gluten-free as well.

The mainstreaming of natural, organic and better-for-you foods in the supermarket channel has been one of the most exciting developments this industry has seen in recent memory. The fact that all three categories represented at the IDDBA show are now helping to lead the healthy eating movement is reflected all across the show floor. You’ll see.

(Photo credit: Paul Swansen)