The Quest For Better-For-You Products And The New MyPlate

When Americans hit the supermarket, increasingly it's wholesome foods they're looking for. According to a national survey our Better4You practice conducted, Americans overall are taking a more wholesome approach to food shopping, with more than half (52%) saying their purchases are healthy. So it's no surprise that the products getting a lot of the attention these days are those packaged as beneficial to one's health, "functional foods" in industry speak.

On the heels of the FDA's announcement about its new food plate recommendations, replacing the old Food Pyramid standard, people have functional foods as well as proportions top of mind. MyPlate, essentially an infographic nutritional guide with a fairly rich website to back it up, makes it easier for people to understand what their daily diet should look like and what to keep in mind while buying food.

No doubt, food manufacturers have made great strides in steering toward healthier ingredients and away from things like trans fats, sugar and sodium. Add to that the fact that more and more media, especially the health and food segments, are doing their part to keep shoppers educated, and you've got a pretty positive trend.



People are also becoming more pro-active; we found that approximately 60% of those surveyed had heard of the new MyPlate guidelines. Shoppers are delving beyond creative packaging on store shelves and taking a closer look at nutritional labels, and many of them know what they are looking for. People are more plugged in than ever when it comes to the food culprits present in our everyday foods. As our survey found, across the board, the food label is the most important factor in making purchases, with saturated fats, sodium and trans fats labeled as the biggest red flags.

And that applies to the whole family. Our research reveals the new MyPlate system will be adopted by adults when making food decisions for their families 6 out of 10 times. This confirms that the door is open now, more than ever, for food PR and marketing professionals to reach parents with healthy messages that make point-of-purchase decisions easier. MyPlate is a new visual, friendly tool that we, as brand marketers, can use to communicate healthful food messages to our target consumers.

Like a good relationship, it's incumbent upon the consumer and the brand to work hard and work together to grow the functional foods category. It's up to the consumer to do homework beforehand and read labels closely before making a purchase. In parallel, it's up to brands to eliminate the dietary culprits and commission more clinical studies to make their food truly "functional." It's up to us, as PR professionals and brand marketers, to facilitate the conversation between the two and keep the conversation moving towards positive results.

And that's something we could all drink to.

3 comments about "The Quest For Better-For-You Products And The New MyPlate ".
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  1. Ed Hinde from Healthy Living Marketing, July 29, 2011 at 10:45 a.m.

    Nice post Rich. The retail sector is involved in this new awareness as well, with numerous supermarket and drug store chains employing registered dieticians and nutritionists to advise on not only customer educational programs, but even the buying process.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, July 29, 2011 at 10:52 a.m.

    This is excellent and your article expresses it well. Next step: Getting the food markets to place signage on all aisles with the plate symbol that can be activated with their phones and in big print - the website - for those who do not have a smart phone or do not know how to use it. Even I can picture it. DOOH at its finest !

  3. Jonathan Hall from The Hall Water Report, July 29, 2011 at 11:07 a.m.

    Similar to recommendations from guests on the Around The Water Cooler internet radio show [Blog Talk Radio] and consistent with new 2010 dietary guidelines, USDA -- for the first time ever -- includes the suggestion to drink water instead of sugary drinks in addition to eating less, avoiding oversized portions, making half of your plate fruits and vegetables and making the other half whole grains, switching to fat-free or low-fat milk & reducing that salt intake.

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