Hey, the grim reaper will eventu- ally catch us all. We might as well enjoy our time on the planet, particularly with the products we
consume on a regular basis.
While that morbid comment will ultimately hold true for all of us, it is starting
to have a big impact on
supermarket sales. In fact,
as a late April article in
The New York Times states,
more and more consumers
are returning to products
that have higher levels of
fat to satisfy their urge for
a tasty snack and complicating doctor’s orders that
you are what you eat. The
bottom line is that better
taste is beating healthy lifestyles with many shoppers
as they shop the grocery store.
Frankly, I am not surprised.
More than 20 years ago, under consid-
erable pressure to do the right thing, I
started serving recently-introduced at the
time SnackWell cookies—made then by
Nabisco—to my weekly card game. The
thought was to give the guys a choice
between the standard assortment of high-
fat chips, pretzels and popcorn and a prod-
uct, which may not have tasted the best,
but was fat-free, and according to the mar-
keting of the time, better for you.
Snack Wells became the cookie of choice
around the poker table, with many of us
smiling as we consumed a dozen or so of
these little cakes, thinking all along that we
were nibbling on a healthy alternative to
those greasy, yet tasty, chip and popcorn
But the math did not add up right.
Snack Wells may have had no fat, but they
were still high in calories. It took a few
years and some belt notches before we
all realized that SnackWells were still full
of carbohydrates, which most experts say
may actually lead to more weight gain and
heart problems than other items with more
fat. SnackWells quickly disappeared from
our poker game mix, never to be heard
from again. (The product is still produced,
now made by Back to Nature Foods out of
The Times article is a bit more complex.
While the writer agrees that consumers are
going back to their old, high-in-fat favorites,
she notes that many people are still looking
for things—albeit different things—from
their favorite items at the supermarket.
For example, the Times states that Edy’s
Ice Cream has seen a double-digit increase
in the sale of its Grand ice cream, a full-fat
product with more natural ingredients
over the last year, while its lower-fat Slow-Churned ice cream saw a drop in sales. Now
the company is reworking its Slow-Churned
products, making them with fewer ingredients and with cane sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup.
So it seems that consumers are still reading the labels and looking for certain things
from the products they eat. But, in the end,
the battle between taste and health has
taken a big turn in one direction.
It will be up to suppliers and their retail
partners to ensure that the right products
sit on shelves and consumers are given a
choice. Ultimately, consumers decide what
to put into their shopping basket and what
to feed their families.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
TASTE VERSUS WAIST
Has the battle between taste and health taken a big turn in one direction?
By Seth Mendelson
Seth Mendelson is publisher
and editorial director of Grocery