Sector insight: Health food and drinks

9Bar is currently executing an experiential tour around London
9Bar is currently executing an experiential tour around London

The health food and drinks sector is enjoying popularity in the UK, a reflection of people's growing awareness of the need to look after their bodies in the long-term.

Laying down the stats

Euromonitor International’s Health & Wellness in the UK (April 2015) report states the 'naturally healthy food and beverages' category was worth £6,205.50m in 2015, and it is predicted to increase to £6,548.20m in 2017.

The gluten free sub-sector is also enjoying popularity - it's worth equated to £320.7m in 2015, and Euromonitor expects this figure will rise to £417m by 2017.

The report identifies the sugar content of food and beverages as a key issue over the next five years [from publication date]. However it states it is unlikely that the government will introduce a sugar tax within the time period, which would see manufacturers adopt new strategies to address the matter. 

Mark Stringer, founder of PrettyGreen has witnessed this phenomenon first-hand. "We’ve noticed that food and drink brands are taking significant steps to be much more transparent and open about what goes into their products. From highlighting super food ingredients to running campaigns that help to bring health boosting attributes to life," he says. 

"Sugar is the tobacco of a new generation and will undoubtedly continue to be a major topic for 2016, particularly the debate around sugar intake, and especially for children." 

On the beverage front, Euromonitor predicts coconut water will maintain its popularity, meanwhile vegetable juice could also be on the rise.

Stringer believes caffeinated beverages will remain at the forefront. "Coffee and caffeine-based products will continue to stay in favour, but again, those with tangible health benefits will champion. An example of this is matcha green tea - the new 'buzz' of choice which offers a boost and as well as something new or exotic for consumers," he explains.

Convenience is key

Kerry Rolston, marketing director at 9Bar believes convenient yet nutritious foods are high on people's agendas. "There’s a general trend towards healthier snacks; Kantar data shows that whilst cereal bars are flat, within that sector healthier snack bars such as 9Bar are in double-digit growth. 

"Recent category quality research shows this is due to consumers becoming much more aware that certain breakfast cereals or breakfast replacement bars have incredibly low nutritional value for their calories." she explains.

Rolston notes people are becoming better educated about the nutrients in food, such as the difference between good and bad fats, as well as quick and slow release types of protein.

Saying no to sugar

Rachel Smith, head of marketing at Sodastream agrees that people are more health conscious than ever, and sees social media as a key contributor. "The social landscape and multitude of sharing platforms provides an instant resource for information on sourcing ingredients, and consumers are all the more savvy as a result.

"This means that brands have to adopt an approach of ultra-transparency and meet consumer demands for more natural and ‘less processed’ food and drink products. Brands need to be nimble and adaptable by coming up with new and innovative ways to provide people with healthier alternatives," she says.

Leveraging off experiential


Smith explains Sodastream is using experiential to share its health message. "We recently worked with a food artist to carve sugar statues to illustrate the amount of sugar derived from fizzy drinks that is consumed by the UK population each minute.

"The statues took the form of an adult, a teenager and a young child using the exact volume of sugar from fizzy drinks collectively consumed by these age groups," she adds.

Smith also hints at additional work of this nature. "Sodastream is perfectly placed to respond to the current consumer demand for healthier alternatives to fizzy drinks and we are planning some exciting activity in 2016 to further cement our position as a sparkling water provider," she says.


Rolston says 9Bar’s Super Seed Squad, which has been making its way around London of late, will also visit locations outside of London this year.

"Expect to see the 9BAR Super Seed Squad taking over cities all over Britain this year and passing on their good energy vibes," she says.

"We are on a mission to rid the world of bad energy: taking our super seeds out into the world and replacing 'bad energy' snacks such as classic cereal bars and confectionary."

She adds the brand is sponsoring Tough Mudder events as well as the Great North and South runs this year. 

More: Knowledge: Sector Insight - Food & drink

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