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PMA Research: Healthy Lifestyles Executive Summary

Thursday, 23 March 2017 | Posted in Industry/Consumer Trends by Renee Harrison

Statistics and studies continue to show that far too many consumers—youth and adults—are at weight levels considered unhealthy. While there are multiple cultural and lifestyle factors contributing to rising weight levels, consumers’ eating behaviors remain the focus of the problem—and the solution. This overview of the Hartman Group’s Healthy Lifestyles and Weight Management 2015 for executive and mid-level produce retailers and foodservice operators as well as their supply chain partners provides insights about:

  • How healthy eating behaviors intersects with consumers’ aspirations to achieve a healthy lifestyle, which includes maintaining healthy weight levels.
  • How healthy eating and its role in a healthy lifestyle creates opportunities for new products and service innovation and brand marketing.

Consumers perceive healthy living and improving their health more broadly than they do weight management. So while getting/staying healthy is a key motivator for those who are trying to manage their weight, living healthy involves more aspects of life, including managing stress, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising.

According to the Hartman Group’s recent report Weight Management & Healthy Living 2015, weight management in the 21st century is increasingly not as much about short term efforts (“dieting”) as it is about permanent dietary alterations guided by healthy lifestyle guardrails. The newer approach to weight loss through permanent dietary alterations is triggering consumer discussions about their perceptions of the undesirable nature of processed foods. This evolution threatens some very entrenched food categories whose portfolios are skewed to these kinds of foods (e.g. fast food, lollies and soft drinks). Meanwhile, the demand for fresh, less processed food is widespread and growing, whether consumers are managing their weight or looking for healthy alternatives bringing opportunities to other categories (i.e.: fruits and vegetables). 

Generally speaking

According to the Hartman report, most adults are overweight (63%) with a substantial number being obese (32%) or extremely obese by CDC standards. And although over half of adults were trying to lose weight in 2015, in general, there is greater acceptance of being overweight in today’s society and being “heavy” is now the social norm and much less stigmatized than in the past. In fact, 32 percent of research respondents said they didn’t see anything wrong with being overweight as long as person is healthy, which is up 11 points from 2010. Yet, despite the greater acceptance being overweight, there is still an emphasis on weight loss in society and 71% of those that are overweight or obese are trying to lose weight. 

People recognise that they are primarily responsible for their own weight and know that poor eating habits and lack of activity are dominant factors causing people to become obese. Yet they increasingly blame fast food, processed foods and food manufacturers as causes/contributors.

  • 76% believe people consume too many processed foods (up 5 points from 2010)
  • 52% believe food manufacturers are contributors to the problem (up 6 points from 2010)

This increasing willingness to blame processed foods and food manufacturers combined with consumers’ growing preference for fresh, less processed food signals a growing threat to companies and brands that process and package ordinary foods that consumers can make in their kitchens.

Weight Loss/Weight Management Strategies 101

Improving overall health, feeling better and having more energy are key weight-loss drivers for ad, as are improving their appearance and healthy aging. They accomplish their goals by focus on controlling quantities, eliminating types of foods, and increasing positive behaviors.

Most consumers talk about the importance of moderation when making dietary changes aimed at weight loss and point to portion control as a key weight-management tactic, but Hartman Group research found that consumers are becoming more likely to eliminate certain food categories (sweets, sugar, candy) in practice. This is because consumers find it harder to practice moderation with tempting foods and beverages than it is to just eliminate them altogether. According to the Hartman research, the consumers use the following tactics.


  • 34% watch portion sizes
  • 28% control the amount of food they consume
  • 24% watch the calories consumed


  • 25% limit the amount of junk food they consume
  • 21% eliminate or limit snacks
  • 21% minimize sugar/sweets
  • 17% eat low calorie versions of products
  • 17% eat a low carb diet
  • 16% minimize carbohydrates

Seek and Increase

  • 18% cook meals more often instead of going out to eat
  • 17% increase vegetables in their diet
  • 16% look for healthy options when eating out
  • 16% use calorie/nutritional information when deciding what to order at a restaurant

Key Takeaways

Marketers have opportunities to increase relevance among the general population as well as those who are trying to improve their overall health by providing products and/or messaging to address the different experiences and approaches of each of these segments.

Snack marketers who are weighted heavily to non-iconic brands in ordinary categories (example: sweet biscuits) featuring high levels of sugar and/or processing will find more opportunities diversifying into salty/savory snacks and/or extending upmarket to premium products. Investing in low-sugar or no sugar snacks will offer an opportunity to tap into the trend away from traditional sweet snacks.

Nutrient-dense beverages (especially those with fruit, vegetables and/or high-protein levels) are well positioned for growth moving forward and should be on the radar of produce marketers who are interested in capturing those consumers who will drift away from non-nutritious snacks and meals in pursuit of their healthy lifestyles and weight management goals.

Marketing Recommendations for Produce Marketers
  • Focus on segments with distinct motivations, challenges and experiences – and engage with consumers as partners in their weight loss and healthy living journeys – not just as commodity sellers.
  • Use digital analytics to locate consumers pursuing healthy lifestyle and provide them with targeted solutions and advice to which they will be apt to respond.
  • Produce marketers have a unique opportunity to find ultra-convenient ways to deliver their products directly to the consumer as an easy-to-integrate healthy lifestyle and weight-loss tool.
  • Provide more information on their products and how to stay healthy while cooking at home and eating out.

In this new era of healthy living and weight management, one size doesn’t fit all and food marketers have to understand each of the more refined segments with whom they need to have more relevant conversation about eating practices. Some of these segments include obese and overweight consumers and the emerging group the Hartman Group calls “Sophisticated Weight Managers”. Read the Healthy Eating & Weight Management 2015 report from the Hartman Group to gain a more in-depth understanding of the opportunities for new product and service innovations as well as brand marketing presented by consumers focused on healthy eating and weight management. 

 PMA Research: Today’s Hottest Ingredient: Technology

Thursday, 23 March 2017 | Posted in Industry/Consumer Trends by Renee Harrison
Know your consumer: Increase consumption, increase sales.
The consumer purchasing experience for fresh produce is changing rapidly, thanks to a number of technological advances that are creating customers who are more empowered than ever when they walk into the grocery store. These technological advances are helping consumers in their pursuit of quality, sustainability and accessibility. And the produce and floral industries are adapting to the latest developments in order to remain relevant to consumers.

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