For food and drink launches in 2008 “natural” reigned supreme

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 14th January 2009

In 2008, food and beverage claims classified as “Natural” – including all natural, no preservatives, organic and wholegrain – were the most frequently featured on new products globally, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD). Claims of ‘fortified products’, on the other hand, took a hit, while declarations of “low” (e.g. low-fat) stagnated.

Almost one in every four (23%) launches last year had “Natural”, a nine per cent rise on 2007 figures.

Meanwhile, widely discussed food and drink claims, such as “Convenience” or “Ethical and Environmental,” failed to put up much of a challenge to the number one position of “Natural” on new products. In 2008, Mintel’s GNPD found only 12% of new food and drink products highlighting “Convenience” benefits, while a mere 5% claimed to take an “Ethical and Environmental” stance.

“Although convenience and the environment are popular talking points today, these benefits did not receive anywhere near the same level of attention as ‘Natural’ claims did,” Lynn Dornblaser, new product expert at Mintel, noted. “With economic struggles driving people toward a simpler way of life, we expect that food and drink manufacturers will continue to prize natural, wholesome benefits well into 2009.”

In America, the GNPD discovered an even greater percentage of new food and drink products launched with “Natural” claims. One-third of new launches highlighted these attributes, up 16% from 2007. Only 18% of new food and drink products communicated “Convenience” on the packaging, while just 7% expressed “Ethical and Environmental” benefits.

Natural Beer

While “Natural” claims increased on new food and drink launches in 2008, fortified “Plus” claims, such as added vitamins or calcium, took the hardest hit. These claims fell 20% during 2008, appearing on just one in 20 new product launches worldwide, according to Mintel GNPD.

What is more, “Minus” claims (low-fat, reduced sugar, low-calorie, etc.), once the height of healthy living, have begun to drop in popularity on new products. Between 2007 and 2008, the number of new “Minus” food and drink launches stagnated globally.

“In the past, low-fat and low-calorie were the hallmarks of good nutrition and dieting, but today, that lifestyle seems passé. On top of this, fortified products are falling out of favour,” Ms Dornblaser advised. “Food and drink manufacturers today realise that natural and pure have become healthy eating ideals, as people look for holistic, genuine nutrition they can trust.”