They’re Listening

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There is a revolution taking place in grocery stores across America, and its repercussions are being felt in boardrooms around the country. As consumers increasingly educate themselves on what is in the food they are eating and feeding their families, they are demanding higher quality, less artificial, non-bioengineered food. They are voting with their wallets, as more processed, chemically laden foods are being left on the shelf in favor of brands offering taste without the use of unpronounceable, unrecognizable additives. This shift in consumer spending is forcing once well-established brands to rethink their approach and their product offerings.

Kellogg recently reported that in the fourth quarter of 2014 it lost $293 million, or 82 cents a share. During the same period in the previous year they reported profits of $819 million. John Bryant, Kellogg’s Chief Executive, blamed the loss in part on the fact that consumers are no longer as interested in foods that are considered “diet”. Instead, he said, consumers are increasingly seeking “Simple food, clearly less refined, if you like, that’s what I think consumers are looking for, as well as satiation.” Mr. Bryant went on to say that in order to recover Kellogg is looking to source more ingredients that have not been genetically modified and they plan to make more of their Kashi brand organic.

General Mills is experiencing a similar “awakening”, if you will. Their goal is to grow their $600 million natural and organic food business to $1 billion by 2020. (While $600 million may not sound like a small amount, keep in mind that for fiscal year 2014 General Mills reported $17.9 billion in sales.) In order to do this they will clearly be relying less on iconic brands such as Betty Crocker and Cheerios and more on their organic offerings which currently include such brands as Annie’s, Muir Glen, Cascadian Farms, and Larabar. As their CEO Ken Powell explains it, “Today’s consumers want more natural foods, with simple ingredients.”

There was a time not too long ago that organic products were kept in a small corner of my local grocery store. The store had a section with two half aisles which were dedicated to organic and natural food. While they still have that section which is solely dedicated to those items, I was happy to see recently that there were also organic products mixed in with the “general population”. Spaghetti sauce? Why yes, right there in the midst of all the traditional spaghetti sauces were a few organic ones. Fruit chews? You bet, lots of boxes touting characters that were all shades of the rainbow thanks to red 40, yellow 5, and blue 1, but right up on top was a box of cute little bunnies whose colors were not artificial. The more consumers demand organic, all natural, non-GMO food, the more manufacturers will be forced to respond. An easy way to find organic options before you shop is to use the search feature at Save time by setting up an account and using to generate your shopping list.


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