Good fats on trend
Younger consumers are ditching their fear of fat, opening up new opportunities for product developers in multiple categories, a report found.
A five-country study by food industry analysts New Nutrition Business reveals that 34% of 25- to 44-year-olds want to eat more healthy fats. By contrast, among consumers aged 55–64, who grew up in the era in which ‘low fat is best’ was the nutritional dogma, only 23% are trying to eat more healthy fats.
The growing embrace of fat is partly fuelled by the view of carbs and sugar as the new dietary demons, with just 16% of Americans seeing fat as the nutrient most likely to cause weight gain compared with 48% blaming carbs and sugar. It’s a complete turnaround from a decade ago when 70% of Americans tried to reduce their fat consumption.
Julian Mellentin, director of health consultants New Nutrition Business, said that there’s such a taste difference when people discover fat.
“Fat is the product developers’ friend, improving texture, mouthfeel, structure and moisture content. In all categories, as time passes there will be less reason to produce products that have low levels of fat. The challenge for companies is to ensure they use good quality fats where they can point to a good, natural source.”
Changing views about the healthfulness of saturated fat are starting to re-shape categories. The study found challenger brands, big brands, retailer own-labels are all are benefiting from consumers’ declining fear of fat.
In the UK, grocery retailer Marks & Spencer markets an own-label 10% fat Greek yoghurt alongside its zero fat and 5% fat lines. It carries the retailer’s Eat Well label, designed “to help customers navigate healthy eating”.
Its competitor Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket group, also has a 10% fat own-label Greek yoghurt.
Deliciously Ella’s — a challenger brand popular with health-conscious millennials, and particularly those with a plant-based diet — offers nut butter cups sweetened with date syrup and coconut sugar. Fat content — from coconut oil, cacao butter and almond butter — is 23 g per 100 g.
While in the US, Love Good Fats, a start-up born in 2017, has distribution in more than 20,000 stores, including Walmart, Kroger and Costco, for its ‘good fat, low sugar’ snacks. Each of its bars has over 12 g of fat — a level of 33 g per 100 g — from a blend of almond butter, peanut butter and coconut oil. It recently secured $10.7 million of equity financing to accelerate growth.
US dairy company Yoplait is also jumping on the trend introducing Americans to crème fraiche, one of France’s traditional high-fat dairy dessert products, which is typically 30–45% milk fat.
Butter’s all-natural credentials and taste have propelled growth for many years. The report found that sales of butter — already at record levels — jumped during the pandemic as people ate at home more. The increase in dollars consumers spent on butter outpaced — by 360% — the increase in spending on margarine and spreads. The biggest winner was Irish brand Kerrygold. Sales surged 28.3%, to US$235.4 million, making it the number-two butter brand in the US.
“The rebirth of fat is a long, slow and steady trend,” Mellentin said.
It is interlinked with other trends such as fewer carbs and more protein, weight management and consumers’ growing willingness to do their research and challenge experts and orthodoxies.
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