What women want

by Allison Sebolt
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The market for food products formulated and marketed specifically for women is growing with products across all categories — from peanut butter-filled pretzels to hot cocoa.

While fortification with calcium, vitamin D and folic acid may pop to mind when making products to appeal to women, the market is much broader. Weight management, preventive care and even mental health are all areas companies are exploring. When it comes to mental health, Mintel International Ltd., Chicago, said the market “is ripe” for sleep aids and mood enhancers whether those are in the form of oral supplements or
enhanced foods and beverages.

Mintel said foods and beverages with health maintenance properties are appealing with many such products obtaining more than a 50% interest rate. In addition, many women are interested in multivitamins, vitamins and minerals for brain health, and supplements for heart health. Heart-healthy foods have gained the most interest with omega-3 fatty acid enriched foods, foods that lower cancer risk, antioxidant rich foods, low salt/sodium foods and sugar-free/low-sugar foods all gaining the interest of more than 50% of respondents to a survey, according to Mintel.

Nestle S.A., Vevey, Switzerland, recently launched Nestle Chocolate Caramel Hot Cocoa Mix with a Women’s Wellness Rich Milk Chocolate variety that the company said is fortified to meet the needs of women.
Earlier this year, PepsiCo, Inc., Plano, Texas, introduced Smartfood popcorn clusters under the Frito-Lay banner as a snack targeted to females. The company said it is a combination of sweet and salty and an excellent source of fiber and calcium. In addition, the product is packaged in 120-calorie individual bags. At the time of the product introduction, PepsiCo said it identified an estimated annual opportunity of $650 million in additional sales to women.

In terms of specific products, the Special K line from The Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., has expanded significantly in recent years with a full product line that includes cereals, protein snack bars, waffles, crackers, cereal bars, protein shakes, protein water mixes and protein meal bars. Many of the products are designed to curb hunger between meals with protein and fiber.

“Special K has expanded its portfolio to include a variety of great-tasting products because many women become bored with weight-management plans,” said Susanne Norwitz, a spokesperson for Kellogg. “We strive to offer variety and great taste to keep women excited and on track with their goals. Special K knows that a woman’s commitment to weight management can fluctuate throughout the week or even throughout the day. Special K products appeal to her because the brand has a variety of options that can be enjoyed any time of day without sacrificing great taste or healthy eating.”

Ms. Norwitz said products that meet the needs of consumers who are constantly on the go but who still desire to eat healthy is an area where innovation will continue to be needed for women’s products. She said the challenge for companies is to offer products that not only provide taste and nutrition but also allow the consumer to keep up with a busy schedule.

In the quest to curb hunger, Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., has introduced a beverage satisfaction drink mix from Crystal Light in strawberry banana flavor, and the company is marketing it specifically to women.
ThinkProducts, Ventura, Calif., has protein bars, dessert bars and bites all designed for women. The products include a ThinkThin line, which are chocolate-covered bars with 20 grams of protein. The line includes ThinkThin Desserts, which are offered as a way to enjoy a dessert while considering weight management. ThinkThin Bites have 11 grams of protein in each bite, and the bites are designed for portion control. ThinkProducts emphasizes vitality in its marketing, and the company’s chief executive officer, Lizanne Falsetto, said the products are designed for those who “think about what they eat.”

Luna Bar, a division of Berkeley, Calif.-based Clif Bar, has a full line of products for women that includes the standard Luna Bar line, Luna Sunrise bars for nutrition in the morning, and the Luna Sport line of products for active and athletic women. Luna Bar also recently changed the formulation in its bars to add vitamin D to help with calcium absorption and to promote bone health.

Luna Bar most recently introduced Luna Cookie, an organic baked whole grain snack for women, although the product goes to show that not every product in this category is successful. The company launched the product saying it was a whole grain snack designed to satisfy and curb hunger between meals and prevent high-calorie and high-fat snack cravings. The company also said the product would help women get important nutrients such as folic acid, calcium, iron and additional B vitamins. The product was launched around the beginning of the summer, but the company already is phasing out the product line.

Folic acid is another nutrient companies are using to fortify their products to help meet health needs of women and to prevent birth defects. According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, Maxim Marketing recently introduced Pocket Pretzels filled with real peanut butter, and the product contains high folic acid content, so the company recommends it to women. In addition, some countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia are working to make or already have made fortification of some bakery products with folic acid mandatory.

Another sector of products appealing to women includes products designed to have beauty-enhancing benefits. For example, Barry Callebaut, Zurich, Switzerland, plans to release the results of new scientific studies on the anti-aging effects of its Acticoa cocoa and chocolate products at Food Ingredients Europe 2009, Nov. 11-13 in Frankfurt, Germany. The company said recent clinical trials in Germany, France and the United Kingdom have shown consuming Acticoa significantly helps to maintain healthy skin.

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