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Natural Products Expo East
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State of the natural food industry

Growth in fresh segments and internet sales

As recent reports have noted, natural food and beverage sales are hot. They grew 9.2% to $75 billion in 2016. Helping to fuel that growth are fresh categories like produce. That was the overarching industry outlook as presented at the opening general session at Expo East.

The vast majority of those natural sales are rung up in the mass market channel, with the natural channel and direct-to-consumer channels (internet, TV, practitioner) following.

The internal channel is growing the fastest, at almost 12% to just under $7 billion.

When it comes to where consumers say they shop for healthy and natural products, the No. 1 choice was traditional supermarkets (77%), followed by mass merchandiser (71%) and drugstores (55%), according to Steve Williams, vice president of strategic consulting with the Natural Marketing Institute.

Consumers say they shop for those healthy and natural products online just as frequently as they do at club stores and warehouses, 41% and 40%, respectively.

During the past 11 years, growth in the big three outlets (traditional supermarkets, mass merchandisers and drugstores) has been flat. The growth has been in natural food supermarkets (7%), health and nutrition stores like GNC (6.5%) and natural food stores (5.6%). When you look at the past four years, however, growth is in healthcare providers and the internet. 

When it comes to things that influence people to purchase healthy and natural products, package labeling was No. 1 at 74%, followed by physicians/doctors at 72%, friends/relatives at 71% and sales/reduced pricing at 69%.

When it comes to Whole Foods and Amazon shoppers, two-thirds of Whole Foods shoppers shop at Amazon on a consistent basis, and 21% of Amazon shoppers shop at Whole Foods regularly.

See more from the opening general session below:


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