NMI Identifies Fiber, Functionality, Fat as Key Health/Wellness Trend

HARLEYSVILLE, Pa. -- The Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), based here, has released expanded details on fiber, functionality, and fat as a second key trend having a significant impact on the health and wellness marketplace.

In January 2005 the U.S. government released its updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which include various components for healthier diets. NMI trends confirm that consumers are indeed predisposed to using more nutritionally based foods and beverages for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, whether for general wellness or for preventing (or even treating) specific health issues.

As a significant growth area and platform for many new products, whole grain and fiber products continue to proliferate in the marketplace across many categories and all trade channels. This is clearly evidenced and aligned with NMI trends, including:

--Although almost 30 percent of consumers said their diet is "fiber-deficient" or "whole grain-deficient", 82 percent of all consumers use whole grain foods (up 5 percent from 2003).

--Forty-two percent seek foods/beverages, which are high in fiber (up slightly from 2003).

--Thirty percent regularly check for "fiber" on food/beverage package labels.

The number of consumers using functional foods and beverages is clearly increasing, says NMI. More than 60 percent of all consumers state usage of functional foods/beverages in the past year -- up from 46 percent in 1999.

"In addition, almost half of all consumers state that functional foods or beverages contain specific ingredients that can have a positive effect on a specific health function, and 25 percent believe that they can be used in place of some medicines," said Maryellen Molyneaux, president of NMI.

Fat-free and low-fat foods usage has declined 15 percent and 5 percent, respectively, over the past six years. There also exists a shift from general (low-/no-) fat concern to specific types of fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats, as shown by various NMI quantitative data that finds:

--Almost two-thirds of consumers are aware of trans fats, up 8 percent from 2003.

--Forty-three percent of all consumers state usage of foods that are trans fat-free.

--Forty-four percent try to limit the amount of trans fats in their diet, up 8 percent from last year.

--Almost half look for "saturated fat" on food/beverage package labels.
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