Moms, Food Brands And The New Dietary Guidelines

by , OpEd Contributor | Mediapost

Last month, the U.S. Government (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion) released the 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines. These guidelines included some interesting new items as well as removal of some old recommendations like limited cholesterol. Specifically they include:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat dairy products and protein.
  • Limit intake of added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day.
  • Limit intake of saturated fats to less than 10% of total calories.
  • Limit to 26-oz. meat, poultry, and egg food group: for 2,000-calorie diet equivalents per week.
  • Limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg. per day.
  • Consume coffee in moderation: up to 3-5 cups, or about 400 mg., of caffeine per day.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation, one drink per day for adult women, two per day for adult men.
  • Removal of recommendations to limit dietary cholesterol (e.g., eggs)

Mommy bloggers took to social media to post their reactions. Curious to understand how the new dietary guidelines would impact how moms ate and fed their families, we conducted a survey amongst 1,500 moms age 18+ to learn more.

The key findings provide insights for food marketers: 

Low Awareness: 70% say they are not familiar with the new dietary guidelines. Of those that were familiar, less than half said that the guidelines prompted them to make changes in their household’s diet.

Alignment: Once presented with the guidelines, only 16% said their household’s diet conforms to them.

• Influence: Most say they will make healthy changes, but not necessarily because of the guidelines. Thirty-five percent say that the new guidelines will prompt them to make some changes, but a greater proportion (37%) say they won’t.

• What Will Change: 86% say they will eat more fruits/vegetables and over 80% say they will buy more fresh food and less processed foods.

Reluctant to Change: According to Packaged Facts, market sales of gluten-free foods reached $973 million and posted a compound annual growth rate of 34% over a five-year period, but only 16% of those surveyed say they plan to go gluten-free. And, only 37% plan to drink less alcohol.

Open to Flavors: A majority (63%) of women say their households are already experimenting with new flavors and spices and an additional 17% intend to begin in 2016. 

Major Food Brands: Women are evenly split (37%) on whether major packaged food brands are keeping up with the trend toward fresher, more natural ingredients while 26% are not sure. 

Implications for Brands:

Whether it’s apathy, distrust or confusion, the results of the study reveal a disconnect between what these guidelines are promoting and what consumers are doing. 

1. Bring on the Flavor! 

It is clear is that consumers are interested in experimenting with new flavors, exotic spices and creative recipes, thereby providing more opportunities for food brands to engage consumers with new products and creative inspiration. 

This study indicates that brands have an opportunity to show consumers, who are clearly seeking flavor, that their products will help “liven up” their meals .

2.  Stake Out A Claim As The Leader in More Natural and Fresh

With so few women indicating that any particular food brand is keeping up with the consumer trend for more fresh and natural ingredients, food brands have the opportunity to stake a claim to this space. 

Food brands should ensure that consumers recognize their commitment to fresh and natural ingredients. Why not let the consumers in behind the curtain on how the product is made and who is helping to make it?  This could reinforce and provide proof for fresh and natural product claims.

What do you think?  Are food brands getting it right with the new dietary trends? Feel free to comment here or tweet me at @shespeaking.