This week General Mills officially launched :ratio, a keto-friendly product line that marks the company’s first keto-focused concept. Loyal Daily Dose of Dairy subscribers were introduced to this product back on August 24. The new line consists of yogurt cultured dairy snacks and crunchy bars. The products are designed to appeal to the growing number of consumers who are looking for ways to cut back on sugar and carbohydrates through better-for-you alternatives to existing preferences.
There’s no arguing, the pandemic changed the way consumers shop, cook and eat. Clean ingredients are the new baseline and individualized eating approaches are the new standard for today’s shoppers, according to the 2020 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends, a report produced by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Washington, D.C., in collaboration with The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. Shoppers are reevaluating their purchase criteria and product assortment needs. They have a sharper focus on health, a heightened awareness of the environmental consequences of consumption and a desire for a deeper connection to food, according to the study.
The International Food Information Council (IFIC) recently published its 2020 Food & Health Survey, which was conducted between April 8 and April 16, about one month into the COVID-19 mayhem. The survey showed that 85% of Americans have made at least some change in the foods they eat or how they prepare food.
Interestingly, the number of people actively following a diet is up significantly in comparison to 2019: 43% in 2020 versus 8% in 2019 and 36% in 2018. (I think this is because diet is one of the few things we can control during these uncertain times.) Many of these diets are teaching consumers that not all proteins, fats and carbohydrates are alike. They are becoming more mindful of the composition of foods.
The IFIC survey showed intermittent fasting (10%) is the most popular diet regime, followed by clean eating (9%), ketogenic or high-fat (8%), and low-carb (7%). The top motivators for new diets are losing weight (47%), feeling better and having more energy (40%), improving physical appearance (39%), protecting long-term health and preventing future health concerns (37%) and preventing weight gain (36%). (I doubt anyone realized it is also to feel in control. After all, the desire for control is a cause of many eating disorders.)
The keto diet is approximately 70% fat, 20% protein, and 5% each simple carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables. It is a weight-loss regime rather than a long-term lifestyle eating approach, as it does not provide the body with adequate, balanced nutrition. However, foods labeled keto friendly also appeal to consumers who are limiting sugar and carbohydrate intake, as General Mills points out in :ratio.
The keto weight-loss regime is all about eating a lot of fat and very few carbohydrates. This forces the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis, which is when the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. The liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies, with the latter traveling to the brain and fueling the body, the traditional role of glucose obtained from carbohydrates. Burning ketones in place of glucose is associated with weight loss, reduced inflammation, sustained energy and more.
All of this focus on keto diets and lifestyles is fueling innovation in the ketogenic products category, which is predicted to grow 5.5% through 2027, according to The Insight Partners, New York. There has never been a better time to either start up a keto food brand or for existing brands to expand their product offerings to include healthy, low-carb food alternatives.