An increasing number of people are discovering health benefits from food in a holistic way. Gone are the days when we would simply throw things into our shopping cart based on price or appearance alone. More than ever, consumers study labels, producers and growers to understand what we are putting into our bodies. Shoppers now look beyond the shelf to customer reviews and company research to make informed decisions for personal health. Consumers are looking to buy from “trustworthy” companies. Even Forbes recently highlighted the most trustworthy companies in a top 100 list.
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates
Today’s consumers are looking back in time to advance healthy lifestyles. “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”, said Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine, more than two thousand years ago. In an age of pharmaceutical medicine, more and more people are taking his advice to heart. They are rediscovering how food can help our bodies fight off all manner of illnesses without the cost and side effects of pharmaceuticals.
During the Baby Boomer generation, the concept of “health food” and food as medicine found its way to the forefront of public consciousness, and has since taken hold. According to market research, this generation is becoming increasingly health-conscious with age, and look for new ways of keeping their bodies in peak physical form.
Evidence of a Global Market Shift to Food as Medicine
This wave of self-education has rapidly brought about change that elicits power of choice for the consumer and adherence from providers. Farmers markets, local boutiques and speciality chain stores like Whole Foods with general chains like QFC and Safeway are quickly following suit to reap the benefits and capitalize on the conscious demand for food-as-medicine products. Albeit an irreversible trend, it offers companies an opportunity to expand their consumer base to new audiences.
This wave of self-education has rapidly brought about change that elicits power of choice for the consumer and adherence from providers.
We have even seen mainstream stores launching their own organic/gluten free brands as well as market leaders making the switch to more conscious ingredients. We see an ever-present shift to “Organic” and “Gluten-free” branding for some conventional stores, as well as some long time brands like General Mills (maker of Cheerios), taking five of their beloved cereals to gluten-free status. Phil Zietlow, a Cheerios R&D Engineer of over 50 years called the gluten-free project the “top thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
The food industry is gradually shifting toward a more medicinal approach to food, and the companies that are making the biggest waves are those that take this into consideration. No longer is food merely “healthy” or “unhealthy”- now that people are more aware of the specific benefits of certain vitamins and nutrients, they are tailoring their diet to their own unique health situation. This trend looks set to continue, and in years to come it seems likely that we will all be treating our bodies, and what we put into them, with a little more respect each time we visit the supermarket.