The Wizard of Lightbulb Moments

The Wizard is constantly scanning industry news to maintain our trend forward stance. These “Lightbulb Moments” are quick insights on critical shifts in trends, research, and other happenings impacting food and beverage companies.

Foods eaten in U.S. workplaces are usually unhealthy

Researchers found 23% of workers obtained food at work during the week, including 17% who got food for free, and 9% who bought food. Among the top contributors to calorie totals in both cases were soft drinks, sandwiches, chips, donuts and other pastries, burgers, pizza, burritos and candy.  While food obtained at work doesn’t represent the largest part of most people’s diets, about 11 percent of workers obtained food at work three times per week, and five percent of workers did so five or more times per week.  That means millions of employees eat a large number of calories at work regularly, and it could be a significant part of their diet. 


Lightbulb Moment: Employers should think about their role in how they contribute to employees’ diets.  It isn’t about offering snacks, it is about helping employees maintain energy, focus, and balance throughout their day.  It’s a responsibility and should be approached thoughtfully.

Study reveals what matters most to online shoppers

According to Radial, consumers are willing to compromise on delivery time in exchange for receiving their order for free.  And while 35.1% of Americans expect their goods to arrive in two days or less, only 24.3% would be willing to pay up to $10 for delivery.  Going a step further, 64% of shoppers expect free delivery for all online purchases.  The report, “Cracking the Code: What Online Shoppers Value Most,” also found that return processes also play a major role in the way consumers purchase online goods.  Fifty-one percent of Americans avoid purchasing goods from online retailers who do not offer free returns. 


Lightbulb Moment: Bottom line, free delivery overrides arrival time. 

Entomophagy is a growing trend in US, dietitians say

Entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, is a growing nutrition trend in the US but is more common internationally.  Registered dietitian Jessica Jones said insects have a high protein content and RD Tessa Nguyen said insects are seen as an environmentally friendly protein source.  According to a report by Global Market Insights, the world edible insect market will exceed $710 million by 2024.  According to the FAO, insects are reported to emit fewer greenhouse gases and less ammonia than cattle or pigs.  They also reportedly need a lot less land and water. 


Lightbulb Moment: Hoorah for Entomophagy, still alive and kicking so to speak.  As a trend it ticks all the right boxes – high in protein, low in fat, sustainable.  And if you use in flour format, you avoid getting little legs stuck between your teeth.  One of the best possible allies you can have for a trend is an RD, let that soak in.

Forty-nine percent of Americans who accidentally purchased food that does not align to their dietary requirements said it was due to poor labeling

According to a survey from Spoon Guru, 33% of Americans who have accidentally purchased food that does not align to their dietary requirements do so on a weekly basis.  The research also revealed 76% of US consumers have unintentionally consumed food restricted from their diet, with the number one reason being that 52% have been served the wrong food as an error by waiting staff in bars and restaurants. 


Lightbulb Moment: Consumers who have serious health issues are the least likely to make this mistake but it is not a risk companies should count on.  Food service has a higher risk of such a mistake occurring since the consumer has no access to ingredient decks.  The litmus test for liability is this – in a court of law, would you win against a claim?

RDN: Choose an inclusive diet that has all food groups

According to registered dietitian nutritionist Abbigail Hickey, restrictive diets can have unwanted repercussions and put people at risk of harm.  People should instead adopt an inclusive diet plan that includes three meals and two to three snacks daily, with four to five food groups in each meal.  Restrictive diets, like low-carb, low-fat, keto, cleanses and detoxes can have unwanted repercussions and restrict an individual’s intake of nutrients or food groups and can reduce calorie and energy uptake. 


Lightbulb Moment: Another sound voice against exclusionary diets.  Long term they have little or no efficacy and short term they can be dangerous.  Restrictive diets are the bullies on the playground that disguise themselves as your best friend.

WHO appeals to policymakers: ‘A healthy diet is a sustainable diet’

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), few dietary guidelines exist that take sustainability into account. Its recently published information sheet ‘A healthy diet sustainably produced’, indicates promoting human and environmental welfare together may provide a winning strategy.  The WHO’s healthy diet recommendations include the consumption of good quality protein, principally unrefined complex carbohydrates in foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and the consumption of fats in moderation.  According to the information sheet, a safe and healthy diet should be sustainably produced and consumed.  The WHO identified food distribution and consumption practices as effecting health and environmental sustainability. 


Lightbulb Moment: Sustainability is a Pandora’s box.  It may have deniers but no adversaries.  The only way to fail at this trend is to not engage.  Tying health and sustainability together in product messaging is marketing gold.  Just make sure your claims can’t be challenged.

Personalized foods for men or women risk appearing ‘outdated’

According Oxford University, there is evidence that men and women do taste food differently. Differences assessed included taste (gustation), smell (olfaction), trigeminal and oral-somatosensory stimulation and color perception.  However, genetically-determined individual differences do not clearly divide men and women with the exception of the visual differences.  Differences are ‘too slight’ to justify launching a food or beverage product specifically for women, or men.  The danger is that any food or drink product that is explicitly targeted at one or other sex can too easily be seen as supporting sociocultural inequalities/differences. 


Lightbulb Moment: Interestingly, in an attempt to customize products, you now risk being labeled as sexist.  Consider focusing on something more tangible than perceived flavor differences – such as disease risk differences between sexes. 

Widespread skepticism of ‘wellness’ as a buzzword may undercut some marketing efforts

For 51% of men, wellness is perceived as nothing more than a buzzword.  When wellness was defined as “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively achieved goal,” 87 percent of men and women responded that physical wellness was most important to obtaining personal wellness, followed closely by emotional wellness (83 percent).  Americans are confused about wellness; 42 percent are unsure or do not think it is easy to define.


Lightbulb Moment: Touting an unclear message around health is a sure way to lose consumer trust and gain adversaries.  Having a corporate definition of an unregulated, and poorly defined term, such as “wellness” will help to dissuade these obstacles. 

To convince Americans GMOs are safe, stakeholders must first convince them to open their minds

Despite widespread scientific agreement that genetically modified foods are safe to consume, most Americans disagree and are unlikely to change their opinions unless they can first be convinced to open their minds. More than 90% of the 2,000-plus US and European adults surveyed by researchers at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder, Washington University in St.  Louis, the University of Toronto and the University of Pennsylvania reported some level of opposition to GMO foods.  In addition, 93% reported some level of concern and 73% cited food safety or health concerns.  Yet, when researchers tested respondents’ objective knowledge about genetically modified foods with a series of 15 true false questions, they found those who most opposed the use of genetic engineering in food also had the lowest actual knowledge about the technology.  Those with the strongest anti-consensus views are the most in need of education, but also the least likely to be receptive to learning due to their overconfidence in their knowledge.


Lightbulb Moment: When a trend is born of fear or acquires a fear-based adversary, first investigate whether there is scientific reasoning behind it before you add fuel to a fire that doesn’t exist.  Here we have ignorance fueling fears.

What Is a Prebiotic? This Question Holds Back the Market

Research from the Global Prebiotic Association shows that even the most seasoned supplement users have a murky understanding of what a prebiotic actually is.  Prebiotics are ingredients that feed good bacteria that is already in the gut.  The knowledgeable supplement users are looking for products labeled ‘prebiotic.’ But they do not understand the differences between different types.  Just 29% of Americans are aware of the link between prebiotics and healthy digestion.


Lightbulb Moment: It took years for consumers to understand what probiotics are and prebiotics are having the same trouble.  The difference is that the yogurt industry did a great job of educating consumers on what probiotics are but there is no champion yet for prebiotics.  The confusion won’t clear till someone steps up and explains it to consumers.  Prebiotics cannot follow the same path as probiotics in popularity unless it also mirrors the educational piece to form an alliance with consumers.

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