January 13, 2012
The first topic in our trend series is the free-from market:
This booming market consists of products targeting either consumers with food allergies or those that believe avoiding certain ingredients/foods (i.e. wheat, milk, meat) will improve health. An AAFC report, Health and Wellness Trends for Canada and the World, highlighted increased demand for free-from/intolerance products in Canada - stressing the top categories were gluten-free, lactose-free and diabetic foods. On-top of this, there is a growing interest in plant-based diets and reduced meat consumption.
So what are the free-from categories to watch?
The rise of the flexitarian, vegetarian, and vegan:
Consumers are making a switch and are looking for ways to reduce their consumption of meat (i.e. Meatless Monday's). This has occurred for a variety of reasons that include health, budget and environmental concerns. The movement/diet/lifestyle also benefited from big name promotion in 2011, which helped to introduce flexitarian/vegetarian/vegan diet to a wider audience (i.e. Dr. Oz, Oprah's 1-week vegan challenge, President Clinton goes vegan, etc.)
Sales of gluten-free products have grown considerably over the past few years (Packaged Facts estimates sales of gluten-free products reached $2.6 billion US in 2010 with predicted sales of $5.5 billion by 2015). Although celiac awareness has increased, the major driver has been consumers looking to improve health & wellness by cutting gluten from their diets. This increase in demand has been meet by an abundance of new products and competitors - even the multinationals are offering gluten-free products (i.e. General Mills and glutenfreely.com), and acquisitions have started to occur.
In addition to the above trends, although diabetic products are not currently on the trend-radar, natural sweeteners seem to be gaining momentum as artificial sweeteners fall out of favor. Dairy alternatives are also seeing growth - specifically options like coconut and hemp as consumers move away from soy.
Free-from remains a key trend - whether it is a dietary preference or a necessity - industry is meeting the consumer demand with new and innovative options.
Note: numerous online resources were sourced in this blog - please click on the hyperlinks to view full articles
January 9, 2012
As always, in January we like to review the trend predictions for the upcoming year. After a lot of reading and numerous discussions we have determined the BioAccess top four -- some of which will look familiar, as 2012's trends seem to be continuations of those we have seen/discussed for the past few years:
So what are the ones to watch?
1. Free-from: Gluten-free is huge, people are moving away from artificial sweeteners and colorants, and are seeking out meat alternatives / flexitarian-ism ---> this is occurring for a variety of reasons including health, budget and environmental factors
2. Look for simple and clean to continue to grow: This is based on concerns over food production & safety and long 'unpronounceable' ingredient lists leading to a movement away from heavily processed products towards more pure/natural foods with recognizable ingredients and less 'chemicals'
3. Heightened focus on prevention and health maintenance: Evolving from the Dr. Me trend from a few years ago, consumers are looking to adapt a lifestyle (i.e. better nutrition, more exercise) to promote and maintain good health ---> this means they want products that will fit with this focus and help them along the way
4. Local: An increasing preference towards local foods signifies a heightened desire to be connected to our food and the producer. 'Local' means a lot of things to consumers including - trust/accountability, fresh, simple, green, ethical, pure... etc.
What do you think will be the major trends in2012?
Also, check back over the next few weeks for our more in-depth look into 2012 trends to watch!
December 2, 2011
Guest Blogger - Debra Hellbach, BCFPA
The BC Food Processors Association (BCFPA) is enhancing its involvement in the areas of functional foods and natural health products. As BC's largest manufacturing sector it is important that food and natural health product manufactures have a voice - to government and the public. By joining the BCFPA, FFNHP representatives will become part of that voice and benefit from the opportunity to network and share best practices with their peers.
- Food manufacturing, including natural health products is BC's largest manufacturing sector, both in terms of shipments and jobs. In 2008 food processing shipments were $6.9 billion, and the industry employed 30,700 people; 18% of total manufacturing shipments and 18% of all manufacturing jobs.
There are many similarities between food and natural health product manufacturers, particularly with regard to human resources, technology and operations, sales and marketing. The synergies between FFNHP and food processing companies will allow BCFPA to provide greater value and take advantage of opportunities for joint capacity building undertakings.
New BCFPA - FFNHP members will be encouraged to join BCFPA's active committees and peer groups in order to network and share best practices. A new Natural Health Products peer group will address issues specific to the FFNHP industry.
Examples of the type of programs and services offered by BCFPA include the award winning BC Hydro Energy Manager Program to help reduce members operating costs, a Professional Development Program, delivering industry specific training, CEO Forums and Coaching. Peer Committees, interactive member forums, focus on regulations, operations, human resources, marketing and advocacy. BCFPA has also launched a new mentoring program. Available to all BCFPA members, the Mentoring Program provides the opportunity for more experienced food and natural health product professionals to share their knowledge and expertise with others who are less experienced.
Established in 2004, the BCFPA represents British Columbia's food beverage and natural health product manufacturers. A member driven organization BCFPA provides networking opportunities, mentoring, sharing of best practices, advocacy and linkages to other organizations. The BCFPA strengthens BC's agri-food processing industry by serving the needs of its members - building their competitive advantage and being their effective conduit to government.
The BCFPA will be hosting a welcome event the afternoon of January 26th at the Great Little Box Company on Mitchell Island in Richmond.
- "Since joining the BCFPA we have uncovered many new Government initiatives which support our processing industry. It also provides an avenue to interact with other similar businesses which fosters new ideas for sales and marketing. BCFPA enables our industry to have a voice in the government. The strength is in numbers, so join BCFPA and get our concerns and issues heard." - Musa Ismail, TaQwa Halal Foods
For more information contact,
October 31, 2011
Guest Bloggers - Henry Chou, with contributions from Kristen Trautman and Michele Senay
The information landscape in the functional food and natural health products industry is changing and growing. Keeping abreast of the development is especially challenging for SME owners who wear many hats. While the World Wide Web contains a wealth of information, it doesn't have "everything," and finding the right information can feel like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Here are some insider's tips to help you.
In this two-part blog post we will steer away from internet search engines such as Google and Bing, since there are endless tips on the web on how to sue them. For example, a quick search of "[your search engine of choice] search tips" will return many useful pages. However, their usefulness is real and should not be overlooked (especially in finding free market information).
Effective information searching beyond engines is a combination of art and science; it improves with practice and experience and sometimes needs a dose of creativity. With a little bit of planning and applying a few tips, you will often be able to find what you need.
It's easy to get lost in the process once searching begins. There are always interesting rabbit trails to follow (not that they shouldn't be followed, since unexpectedly good results can come from those trails), distractions that make you lose your place, and a limitation on time and other resources. Therefore one of the most important things you can do is to plan first. Someone has put it this way: "Think and gather, NOT gather and think."
So what should you think about? To start, figure out what do you need to know. Write it out in one concise sentence or in the form of a question, and determine the concepts involve. A concept in this context is simply an idea or a topic of interest. The trick is to choose one that is not too vague or too specific. Either way will make finding the right results difficult. You can have one, two, three or more concepts embedded that provide more specific or concrete details of what you need to know. Keep in mind that if you only have one concept you will possibly get too many results, while having four or more results might give you too few.
For example, maybe you want to know more about the organic market. Organic market is a concept or topic, but it's huge. A quick search could give you results on products, market size, history, companies, etc. So you could be more specific, and focus on market size. So now you are looking at the market size of the organic market. But even that is pretty vague, because you might get information from all over the world. So you might decide to only look at western Canada. Now you have three concepts, and might want to describe your search as: "To find more information on the organic market in western Canada," or "What's the size of the organic market in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba?"
Your search is now clear and has a very workable level of focus. However, you might be wondering "What trends are occurring in the organic market?" or "In what areas is the market increasing?" Keep these sub-questions in mind as you search and review the results. The initial statement or questions gives the skeleton and it is helpful to flesh it out as you go.
In addition to knowing "what" you are looking for, it is also helpful to consider "why" it's important. Sometimes you can't find exactly what you want, but knowing why will help you determine what other information you can look for instead. It's creating a hierarchy of relevance. Start at the most relevant, but if you can't find it, or get it for whatever reason (e.g. cost, time, etc.), often the next best thing is all you will get, but it could also be all that you need.
Information types and sources
Having settled on what you want to find, the next step is to decide where you are going to look for the information. In other words, what type of information are you looking for, and what type of information sources are you going to use? From there you can develop a list of indicators (ie: gauges you can use that will help answer the question) and sources/places where you will find that information. The following example shows how each of the two indicators (Trends and Market Activity) is broken down into more specific areas (eg. consumer preferences under Trend), and some basic examples of where to find information for those areas (eg: webinars). Keep in mind this list is not exhaustive. Click on the figure for a larger image.
More generally (not thinking about the organic market anymore), the table below shows common types of information that could be useful and the free sources that could be used to find them. Specific information source examples are hyperlinked, but make sure to seek out more specific sources that apply to your industry.
|Type of Information||Information Source||Notes & Tips|
Also, association newsletters, seminars/presentations by experts, reference databases, & general news sources
|Company Information (publicly traded)||
U.S. - EDGAR
Also, company web sites, press releases & annual reports, reference databases, & general news sources
U.S. - Google Patents
World - NationMaster
|Individuals and Experts|
As far as reference databases go, they are not commonly available to the general public, although there are some exceptions (e.g. PubMed). Even so, there are two main access points for you. First, in most municipalities, public libraries offer a number of reference databases to registered patrons. For example, at the Saskatoon Public Library there is a list of eight business related sources accessible to anyone with a valid library account. Usually all you need to do is sign up for a library card and then you can login to the databases from home or at the library. Second, if you happen to live in the same city as the university/college you graduated from, there is often an alumnus account you can get that would allow limited access to the institute's databases. Even if you don't live in the same city, perhaps your alma mater offers database access for a small fee. For instance, University of Toronto has the Digital Library for Alumni, which provides access to thousands of periodicals for $135.60/year.
The list of information types and sources is not exhaustive but should give you a place to begin your search. Also, we're not implying that if you're looking for a particular type of information that you should be looking up all the sources, because that all depends on what you're after and what information is available.
Armed with the knowledge of what you're looking for and why, and a list of information sources that might contain the information you're after, you are now ready to embark on the actual searching process. We will discuss search strategies and information organization in a future post, but in the meantime, go ahead and explore the sources that we have listed.
**Henry Chou is the Information Specialist at NRC-PBI**
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