The business of health and wellness

by Keith Nunes
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The notion health and wellness are a new phenomenon affecting the food industry is wildly misleading. Food manufacturers always have produced nutritious food products. What is new is how producers, processors, retailers, food service operators, public officials and consumers approach the topic.

Concern about obesity and the impact it is having on the U.S. and global populations has led stakeholders throughout the food production chain to review how foods are developed, processed and marketed. This review has led to the realization that a focus on health and wellness is a value-added attribute that allows companies to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

Indeed, William R. Johnson, the chairman, president and chief executive officer of the H.J. Heinz Co., Pittsburgh, said in a conference call with financial analysts on May 29 that he views a focus on health and wellness by his company as a way to combat the rising prices of commodities the company is facing.

In this Special Report, the editors of Food Business News look at how the trend of health and wellness has impacted various sectors of the food industry. How the shift toward formulating products with zero trans fatty acids has affected various commodity markets will be reviewed as well as how the integration of health and wellness platforms into the product portfolios of four leading food companies has affected their strategic focus.

Health and wellness also is having an impact on the retail and food service sectors as operators attempt to inform consumers about the nutritional quality of the products they sell. In addition, the report will look at how ingredient suppliers have tapped the health and wellness trend in an effort to better serve their customers.

Finally, the impact of health and wellness on consumer purchasing patterns will be reviewed. Recent data has shown the incidence of obesity in the United States may have reached a plateau. Is it due to the focus on health and wellness or something else?

Trends are defined by their lifecycle. They emerge, peak and then fade as a new concept emerges and garners the attention of industry and consumers. If this report shows anything, it is that health and wellness as a strategic function throughout the supply chain is no longer a trend. It has become a part of the food industry and will remain so for years to come.

See the following stories of interest in this special report:

Vegetable oil price soar

Health focus

Navigating nutrition

Health and wellness as preventive medicine

Sweet makeover

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, June 24, 2008, starting on Page 1. Click
here to search that archive.

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