New product introductions on the back of key nutritional claims continue to decline significantly, while others have remained steady, according to market analysts Mintel.
The company's Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows that products in decline are those which focus on the element that has been removed (such as sugar or fat), while those on the rise draw attention to the 'added value' factor - elements added to the product or that which is inherently good about it. Such 'positive nutrition' claims include 'All Natural', 'No Additives/Preservatives', 'Added/High Fibre', 'Added/High Calcium', and 'Organic'.
Calcium addition is still a big hit, according to Mintel, with new introductions in 2002 at almost the same level as 2001. Calcium-fortified products have moved beyond orange juice to energy and snack bars, dairy beverages, water and instant oatmeal.
While Europe continues to embrace organic products and those without additives and preservatives, such claims are starting to gain in strength in the US. This is especially true of the 'No Additives/Preservatives' claim, which appears on the large majority of products for babies and children. There has been a slip in the number of new organic products, which may be in part due to economic forces. 'All Natural' is the one claim that has experienced the greatest decline, although the total number of introductions in 2002 numbered nearly 1,000. The decline may be in part due to the vague nature of the phrase, writes Mintel.
Claims that focus on the removal of an element - 'Reduced/Low Calorie', 'Reduced/Low Fat', 'Reduced/Low Salt', 'Reduced/Low Sugar' - all showed more significant declines than 'positive nutrition'. There was, however, one exception - 'Reduced/Low Sugar' showed a hefty increase, from 320 products in 2001 to 484 in 2002, an increase of just over 50 per cent. As the incidence of adult-onset diabetes increases, Mintel predicts that more of these types of products will appear on the market.
Of significance, writes Mintel, is that of the low sugar products introduced in 2002, relatively few of them are promoted as being for diabetics or suitable for a diabetic diet. Rather, they simply promote the fact that they do not contain sugar or that they are reduced in sugar in order to reach a wider audience.
Mintel makes the final point that consumers are much better educated about food and nutrition than in the past, and consequently they do not need to rely on cut and dried statements to tell them what they need to know. Instead, they are prepared to scrutinise the nutrition label and ingredient statement. Consumer organisations might suggest that this is not at all the case and that very few shoppers have the time, or the inclination, to read the small print.