Lightening up time Lighter and low/no options growing in popularity

Cutting down “naughty” nutrients or cutting them out, not just for a month or two but permanently, has given rise to a whole new way of life for millions of shoppers in the UK, not just ultra-healthy consumers or people with medical conditions. Today’s consumers have an increasing desire for healthy choices, especially Millennials, and it represents a major opportunity for supermarkets and convenience format stores.

One such trend is alcohol free. Andrew Turner, Director of Wine for Halewood Wines & Spirits, says some 21 per cent of people in the UK are choosing not to drink at all these days and one in four drinkers are saying they’d like to change their habits.

But the move to reduce alcohol consumption is nothing compared to the flight from sugar. In the words of Clare Denham at Danone, sugar reduction plays an important part in the ongoing discussion around healthier living and 92% of consumers are trying to actively reduce their sugar intake. With the increased focus on health leading some consumers to change their usual drink choice to reduce their sugar or calorie intake, supermarkets should look to display lower or no sugar variants of well-known brands as part of their offering. Schweppes, for instance, offers a selection of Slimline products that will appeal to those looking to enjoy a lighter option as part of their cocktail recipes, potentially leading to incremental sales growth.

According to Mintel, sugar has officially become public enemy number one for healthy eaters in the UK, trumping calorie count. Whilst 97% of Brits say they try to eat healthily at least some of the time, over half (54%) look for low sugar content when shopping for healthy foods, compared to 50% interested in low fat content. By comparison, five years ago, in 2012 low fat was the most important health claim (52%) for healthy food shoppers when compared to low sugar (43%). Low salt content (47%) and low saturated fat content (46%) are also leading factors. Historically fat has been the ‘food villain’ and the macronutrient people have been most wary of, based on its perceived link to body fat. But the tables have now turned and low sugar has overtaken low fat in its perceived importance for healthy food, indicating consumers’ increased vigilance about their intake of sugar.

But despite all this awareness that certain ingredients can be bad for our health, a balanced diet remains key for consumers. Two thirds (66%) of Brits reckon occasional unhealthy treats are fine as part of an healthy diet, and half (49%) believe there is no need for “light” or “diet” products in a balanced diet.