Over the past 5 years or so, I’ve noticed that there has been a shift to how I approach food. It’s most likely the environment, but I remember when I had no clue what processed foods were, or why there was an issue with eating fast food besides the ‘it’ll make you fat’ argument.
Fast forward to now, I am more knowledgeable on how a lot of the food we eat is produced, and also surrounded by a lot of health conscious people. Perhaps it’s a just a trend, or maybe a long-term shift in consumer interests, but what I do know is that it’s catching on quickly, and big brands are listening.
Health Conscious Consumers
Consumers are following all kinds of diets to ensure they are healthy or that they are being the most ethical they can be. Some people avoid gluten or dairy, while others go for vegetarian or vegan diets. For some, the danger lies in genetically modified food and artificial sweeteners, pushing them to eat as close to nature as possible. The list can really go on and on about the many ways today’s consumers are becoming more health conscious.
It seems like businesses have been noticing the trends in society, and there are shifts in what they are supplying nowadays. Restaurants have lighter options, gluten-free options and vegan friendly meals available on their menus. Groceries are labeling their foods so you see exactly what is GMO and what is produced in a non-processed way. And there are specialty organic or vegan stores and restaurants popping up everywhere catering specifically to those diets. Here are a few other solid examples of how the big brands are getting more health conscious.
The popular coffee-shop chain Starbucks have been supportive of treating animals in a humane manner since 2014 and plan to go cage-free by 2020. They’ve also introduced coconut milk as a dairy alternative, alongside soy milk. In late 2015, representatives of the chain stated that they have started testing out different vegan (plant-based) food options to make available for customers in the near future.
I remember always having Kraft’s Mac & Cheese in the pantry at my house growing up. I ate it a lot without putting much thought into it. But during April last year, Kraft decided to respond to the feedback from their customers, and they pledged to remove all the artificial flavors, dyes and preservatives from their macaroni and cheese. The new artificial free recipe has been on the shelves since December 2015 – and over 50 million boxes sold – yet it was only this March when the company publicly announced the change, that people noticed. This just shows that you don’t need to sacrifice taste for health; people can’t even tell the difference!
This one is a bit of a touchy subject, since we’ve already covered what happens to your body one hour after drinking a Coke. But the changes they make now, may just be another step toward a soda that doesn’t affect your body like it currently does. Back in 2014, Coca-Cola Life was launched as a soda with fewer calories and less sugar, since they blend together extracts from the stevia plant with the sugar. Coming up this April, they’ll be launching a new version of Coca-Cola Life that has even more stevia plant extract, causing it to contain 45% less sugar and fewer calories when compared to competitors.
You can’t deny the changes that are happening in the food and drink industry. Every flipped recipe or addition of new menu options, points to customers truly being the kings. People are creating unique diets that are healthier, and more ethical for themselves. Big names in the food industry have no choice but to adapt to this; ensuring that there is a wide variety of good food available to choose from.
Sources: Huffington Post, Handshake, Coca-Cola and Quartz
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