Down with dieting
Seventy-seven per cent of consumers are trying to eat more healthfully, but only 19% say they are on a diet, according to a Fortune magazine poll.
“This is not a good time to be in the diet food or beverage business or the weight loss center business because consumers are staying away from those programmed regimens in droves,” Ms. Kruse said. “What they’re really doing is taking a more holistic approach and asserting their control over their lives.”
The breakout star of the healthful eating movement is the vegetable, she said.
“It’s all about plants and plant-centric dining,” she said.
Not only are plants replacing meat on menus to align with an emerging flexitarian lifestyle; they also may stand in for grains. Houlihan’s recently introduced dishes featuring noodles made from zucchini.
“Where are we going to go next when it comes to better-for-you foods?” Ms. Kruse said. “It’s going to be all about better sugar. We know the bad sugar is the refined stuff. The better sugar is the sugar that comes in with some sort of credentials.”
As an example, PepsiCo, Inc. recently launched a line of soft drinks made with certified fair trade sugar.
“Watch the consumer acceptance of cane sugar, pure cane sugar and organic sugar,” Ms. Kruse said. “Indra Nooyi, who is the c.e.o. of PepsiCo, says their research shows when consumers see an identifier like certified fair trade sugar … consumers perceive it as a healthful food.”