Category Archives: Trends

Healthy Shift to Healthy Snacking

Healthy snacksThe New Year has come and gone.  Resolutions have been made.  According to a 2015 Nielsen consumer report, the #1 resolution made last year was to “Stay Fit and Healthy.”  The #2 resolution made was to “Lose Weight.”  The same themes are in place for 2016 and, in fact, the idea of using food to manage health may help explain growing consumer interest in Specialty Foods including natural and organic products.


Consider these shocking facts:

  • 37 percent of Americans have cardiovascular disease.
  • 34 percent of U.S. adults have hypertension.
  • 36 percent of American adults have prehypertension
  • 41 percent of the population will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

With Baby Boomers aging and their purchasing power fading, the Millennial generation (born 1982 – 2001) will have a distinct impact on the traditional grocery market and future purchasing patterns.  Millennials’ are obsessed with food.  Statistics from the leading social media platforms (Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook) indicate that food boards are by far the most popular.  Also, consider how popular food programs have become on cable television.  All driven by the Millennial generation.

According to the article, “How Millennials Are Changing Food as We Know It” by Beth Hoffman, Millennials still prefer cheaper food and want it to be convenient.  But they are also willing to pay for healthy food and are willing to go to great lengths to find it.  And this shift – by millions of people – could change the market forever since Millennials will teach their kids the same eating habits.

The beginning of 2016 offers retailers the opportunity to adjust their approach and further attract an emerging generation to their store.  Healthy snack sets are all the rage and offer assorted healthy options that will relate to a progressive generation.  Tips to consider when building your healthy snack set:

  • A 4ft set is where to start – but an 8ft set will help your store become a destination for healthy, on-trend options.
  • 45% of consumers look for healthy snacks that go beyond basic nutrition – basic rule of thumb is to make sure product labels highlight health, energy & protein benefits.
  • 28% of adults eat 4-5 mini meals each day.  Healthy meal replacement products such as Granola & Nut/trail mix blends help the consumer get a quick fix.
  • 25% of healthy snacks sold are in bite size, grab-and-go sizes.  Merchandise premium fruit snacks & single snack bags so they are easy to grab on-the-fly.  Also, you could offer secondary placements at the register, by prepared foods, or at the salad bar.
  • There have been 87% more snacks sold with protein claims in the past two years.  Meat Bars, Meat Sticks & Jerky can offer clean protein packed options.
  • Dried fruit and dehydrated vegetables such as Fruit Thins, Kale, Coconut Chips & Seaweed are excellent sources of nutrition and help round out an effective healthy snack assortment.

Make your set prominent and appealing.  Millennials are more likely than older generations to visit two or more stores to purchase the items that they need.  Be that destination for an emerging generation and reap the rewards for years to come.

Better For You Back to School – Industry Insights

back to school blog pic

It’s July.  The kids are beginning to get restless and parents are already thinking about sending their kids back to school.  With the selling season right around the corner (August-September) retailers can begin to focus on additional seasonal opportunities for back to school.  Families are beginning to get into shopping mode so it’s time to benefit from some creative marketing and enjoy the incremental sales that are generated.


In recent years, the percentage of households switching their kids to homemade, packed lunches – at least a few times a week – has almost doubled.  Parents are making an increased effort to avoid school hot lunches for 3 key reasons:

  • School lunches are not nutritious.  Only 6% of school lunch programs nationally meet the nutritional requirements established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • They contribute to childhood obesity.  Compared with kids who brought lunch from home vs. those who ate school-prepared lunches were more likely to be overweight or obese (38.2% vs. 24.7%)
  • They can take a bite out of your wallet.  Packing a lunch for your children means that you can choose healthy and inexpensive items to keep them fueled for the school day.

With specialty & natural food sales at an all-time high and a health conscious community screaming for additional healthy options, retailers find themselves in the enviable position of offering high growth specialty & natural items to mom’s that are interested in good health and tasty alternatives.  Transform ends with high visibility into back to school destinations. Recommendations include:

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly with Almond Butter as an upscale/healthier option.  Almond butter sales were up 20% last year which equals half a pound of almonds a year per person in the U.S.
  • Snack size options including pita chips, popcorn, coconut chips, premium fruit snacks and Non-GMO pretzels.  Cross merchandise using clip strips to create additional selling opportunities.
  • Ready to drink beverages; Organic juice/juice box multi-packs, bottled and seltzer water.
  • Grab-and-go breakfast items such as granola bars and fruit/oatmeal squeeze pouches.

According to a study by Viacom’s Nickelodeon, 71% of parents say they solicit opinions from their kids regarding purchases.  Nearly all let the kids weigh in when what’s being purchased is mainly for the kids themselves, but more than two-thirds of parents take their kids views into consideration when making family purchases.

Kids today have more of a say than ever.  In “Preparing for Back to School Merchandising and Marketing Tips” by Debby Swoboda, some unique ideas are featured to engage kids in the purchase process.  Examples include a tasting fair where kids are able to vote on their favorite specialty healthy options and use the results to place “Kid tasted & approved” shelf talkers throughout the store.  Consider holding a contest where they vote online – kids love the internet.  Or create an end cap geared to kids with signage or recipes that educates parents on how to create “nutritious snacks.”

Be creative, add color, make sets attractive, eye catching and make back to school your most important growth opportunity for seasonal and holiday selling.

By Craig Bannon, Chex Marketing Manager

Health Benefits of Tea: Green, Black, and White Tea


Tea is a name given to a lot of brews, but purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. They are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids.


The most potent of these, known as ECGC, may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.

The more processed the tea leaves, usually the less polyphenol content. Polyphenols include flavonoids. Oolong and black teas are oxidized or fermented, so they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green tea; but their antioxidizing power is still high.

Here’s what some studies have found about the potential health benefits of tea:

  • Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
  • Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
  • White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.


Featured Chex Tea: Taylor’s of Harrogate Green Tea with Jasmine

Made with 100% natural ingredients! This tea is high in antioxidants and has a light, delicate flavor with floral aromas!

Antioxidants 101

anti We have all heard of antioxidants by now and are aware that they have the potential to improve overall health, delay the onset of many age-related diseases, prevent macular eye disease and reduce the risk of some cancers. But what exactly are they? Find out here. more…

What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are nothing more than vitamins, A, C and E, the mineral selenium and bioactive compounds like carotenoids and polyphenols found in foods. Our need for them is derived from a paradox in metabolism. Our bodies require oxygen to function, but oxygen, by itself, is highly reactive, and creates byproducts through oxidation. These byproducts, called free radicals, are potentially damaging to cells. Antioxidants, as the name reveals, can stabilize free radicals before they cause harm.

Our body’s defense against oxidative stress decreases over time, which is why a diet rich in food containing antioxidants is needed as we age. Oxidation is a normal process that occurs in the body through normal cell function and metabolism- as well as from outside sources, which include pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, motor vehicle emissions, and many other processes. Environmental free radicals then enter the body through the skin, respiration, and other means. Therefore, achieving a balance with an antioxidant rich diet is crucial to maintaining good health.

New Non-GMO Trends

non gmo

Non-GMO topped organic as a driving factor in brand choice in the 2014 Market LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability) MamboTrack annual consumer research study, which found 80 percent of participants claiming to seek out non-GMO products. Fifty-six percent, meanwhile, said non-GMO was key to brand-buying versus 52 percent which cited organic as a primary purchase driver.


Amid a time when GMO-related issues have emerged as a prominent consumer hot button, it comes as little surprise, at least to me, that this year’s MamboTrack survey results mark the first time non-GMO surpassed organic in purchase intent.

Similarly, the gluten-free category is also poised for continued growth, with seven in 10 natural shoppers buying products labeled as gluten free, and more than nine in 10 planning to increase (41 percent) or maintain their spending (57 percent) on gluten-free. The study also revealed that eight in 10 (81 percent) health-conscious shoppers buy antibiotic free (ABF) protein products – a jump over 2013’s 74 percent.

Product “have-nots” are indeed driving brand choice among health-conscious consumers, affirms Karen Herther and Bethany Stanley, principals of Market LOHAS and co-directors of the annual MamboTrack Research. From non-GMO to gluten-free to ABF, the study’s directors note that shoppers are seeking transparency, reading labels and focusing more closely on what’s not in the products they buy.

*From the Progressive Grocer

On Trend Grains

grains What are some of the best grains to include in your brown bag lunch or as a hearty side for lunch or dinner? Or even to replace your typical breakfast cereals? Well, here is our guide to some of the best examples of nutrient rich grains and seeds; all rich in complex whole grain carbohydrates which are much more nutritious, full of fiber and help keep blood sugar stable. more…

Farro is a food product composed of the grains of certain wheat species. The exact definition is debated. It is sold dried and is prepared by cooking in water until soft, but still crunchy (many recommend first soaking overnight). It may be eaten plain, though it is often used as an ingredient in dishes such as salads and soups.

Compared to other types of dried beans, lentils are relatively quick and easy to prepare. They readily absorb a variety of wonderful flavors from other foods and seasonings, are high in nutritional value and are available throughout the year.

Quinoa an “ancient grain” (it’s actually a seed) was originally cultivated thousands of years ago in the South American Andes and known as “the gold of the Incas” and the “mother of all grains.” Quinoa is a very good source of both magnesium and iron. Magnesium is important for muscle relaxation, building and strengthening bones as well as benefiting the circulatory system. Iron plays the essential role of helping to carry oxygen to the heart, lungs and brain as well as throughout the body. Iron plays a large part in keeping our immune system healthy and helps us stay alert and energized. Along with magnesium and iron, quinoa boasts a whole host of other nutrients and bioactive compounds as well as fiber, and it’s gluten free. Quinoa can be used in place of couscous, rice or other grains in recipes preparing quinoa is exactly like preparing rice except it only takes about fifteen minutes!

Cookie Trends


There’s no two ways about it: cookies are a beloved household staple in America. With sales increasing by nearly 5 percent for two consecutive years, the cookie and cookie bar category now accounts for more than $7 billion in annual sales and is estimated to grow to a total of $8.3 billion by 2017, according to research firm Mintel International.


With four out of five survey respondents reporting eating cookies, consumers are primed to try new options, especially those with exotic flavor profiles—like burnt sugar and fennel or apricot sage—as well as those containing more chocolate, caramel and superfruits. And while healthy cookies were the fastest growing segment last year, successful cookies and cookie bars must still taste delicious first.

Sandwich cookies take the prize as favorite cookies, with nearly half of respondents choosing them today and in previous years. Soft chocolate chip cookies are also very popular, and have perhaps grown as more brands are suggesting that consumers heat these varieties at home for a bakery-fresh feel. Bite-size and fruit-filled cookies are two categories that have seen an increase in awareness since 2008, appealing to consumers who are taking a more health-conscious approach to buying cookies.

Close to 50 percent of respondents do not think much about health-related attributes when purchasing cookies. While this is not surprising given the general view that cookies are a dessert or indulgent snack, an opportunity exists for manufacturers to appeal to consumers in a new way by emphasizing healthful characteristics. Older respondents are more likely to buy products with claims such as lowfat, low sugar, trans fat–free, and low cholesterol, and all-natural and whole-grain cookies are more likely to appeal to young consumers

Chex Featured Cookie:


Tate’s Gluten-Free cookies are thin and crisp with pieces of thin, crystallized ginger. These cookies are made with rice flour and all natural ingredients…simply delicious!