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Attention mass market: 'healthy everything' is here to stay

Attention mass market: 'healthy everything' is here to stay

The following quote is counterintuitive to everything we know to be true in the natural products industry. Brace yourself:

"In terms of food, 'healthy everything' is on the way out," said Christopher Warsaw, corporate executive chef Bell Flavors and Fragrances. "People want small indulgences in their life. There's a reason bacon's very popular right now."

Warsaw spoke to Food Navigator at the Research Chefs Association Expo in Texas about food trends, but it was this quote that caught my attention. I can't help but wonder under what rock he's been living.

(It should be noted that Bell Flavors and Fragrances makes ingredients such as "natural chemicals" and "aroma chemicals.")

Everywhere I look, healthy is becoming part of Americans' daily lifestyle, so much so that major corporations that make food, fragrances and cosmetics greenwash the heck out of their products to dupe unsuspecting consumers. Think Air Wick and other natural businesses that were bought out by Fortune 500 companies.

Healthy is in, and it's delicious

We reported this week that the organic industry grew 4.2 percent to top $31 billion in sales in 2011. And it created half a million jobs in 2010. If that's not evidence that 'healthy everything' is in, I don't know what is.

Remember in grade school when your teacher told you that imitation was the sincerest form of flattery? CPG companies are clueing in to this whole 'healthy everything' business. The problem is they're not there yet—and how could they be? They have decades of Twinkies and Fruit Loops behind them, products that put money in their wallets and continue to do so. And if they reformulate overnight, consumers' tastebuds surely can't catch up—and neither could these companies' stocks prices.

The kicker here is that 'healthy everything' food can actually be a small indulgence. You don't have to reach for a bacon topped gluten-free cupcake to make that happen. Instead, try my newest addiction: Simply Dara's Raw Balls in Dark Chocolate Chili.

As we turn the dial toward health in this country, more people will awaken to this idea that healthy doesn't taste like cardboard. And once they do, the natural products industry will embrace them with open arms. Raw balls and all.

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