As nearly every recent food trends study has shown, consumers today want healthier, more natural foods. For example, in the processed meat category, this trend is illustrated by growth in the popularity of products with no added sugars, preservatives, or other ingredients consumers want to avoid.
For processors looking to compete in these markets, new research sheds light on how to increase healthiness and quality without adding unpronounceable ingredients. Here are three ways to make processed foods healthier naturally.
According to the CDC, about 90% of Americans eat too much sodium, which increases their risk of high blood pressure. In contrast, less than 5% of Americans eat enough potassium, a mineral required for muscles to work properly — including the heart muscle, which regulates blood pressure.
As Donna Berry points out in Meat+Poultry, this represents an opportunity for processors to help solve both problems and contribute to heart health by replacing sodium chloride, nitrates, and phosphates with their potassium counterparts. Berry notes that this provides a positive marketing message as well. She writes:
“Thus, by replacing sodium salts with potassium salts, consumers not only reduce intake of a negative heart health ingredient, they also increase intake of a positive mineral. This is a story meat and poultry processors may communicate to shoppers on package labels and other marketing materials.”
Spicy foods are having a heyday. In a 2017 survey, natural extracts supplier Kalsec found that a whopping 90% of consumers enjoy spicy foods.
This is another great opportunity for processors to help boost heart health by lowering their products’ sodium content and reduce the chances that consumers will add more salt during a meal. A study published in the journal Hypertension found that people who like spicy foods tend to eat less salt and have lower blood pressure. This is likely because spicy and salty foods stimulate overlapping areas of the brain, making people who eat spicy foods more sensitive to salt and, thus, use less of it.
Alongside the desire for healthy, natural foods is the desire for convenience. Americans are snacking more than ever, and these snacks often replace meals.
The trick is that when people think they’re eating snacks rather than meals, they tend to eat more later. In addition to reducing portion sizes, food manufacturers can help consumers eat less by clearly labeling meals as meals.
These are just a few ways processors can make their products healthier. This initiative will not only benefit consumers. It will also boost processors’ bottom lines by giving them a competitive advantage in the current market.