Recession-hit US healthy foods market valued at $143bn

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Organic food

The US healthy foods market is being hit by the recession, despite sales up 1.8 percent to reach $143bn, according to the latest report from Nutrition Business Journal.

The 2010 Healthy Foods Report identified US healthy food sales suffering similar stagnation to the general food market in 2009. “Annual growth rates continue to slip for healthy foods, which has seen its star dull and tarnish in the protracted economic malaise​,” wrote the report’s authors.

The total US food market grew only 1.6 percent last year to total $628bn in sales.

On a more encouraging note, the downward trend may be nearing its end and growth rates should improve modestly in coming years, they add. “As growth takes meaningful hold, healthy foods should increase its share of the total foods market, reaching 23 percent penetration by 2017. The trends toward natural and organic food and beverages as safer and healthier consumer choices remain particularly strong​.”

The report covers four product categories in the healthy foods market—organic, natural, functional and lesser-evil foods.

Natural and organic

Natural and organic foods will grow the fastest of any healthy foods categories in the next eight years, predicted the report. Growth rate in the organic category will reach nearly 10% in 2012 reflecting the move of product categories such as organic fruits and vegetables and natural meat, fish and poultry sidle into mainstream purchasing.

Functional and lesser-evil foods are expected to lose market share to the natural and organic categories. But functional sales should retain at about a quarter of total healthy food sales over the next eight years.

Biggest competitor

Showing a forecast compound growth rate of nearly 9 percent, organic foods is expected to be the biggest competitor in healthy foods for the future. “Compound annual growth for the total healthy foods industry should hover above 5 percent for the next eight years, just outpacing the growth of its largest categories, functional and lesser-evil foods​,” according to the report’s authors.

The organization’s research manager, Carla Ooyen said: “Food is big business, and healthy foods are the future of that business. If you are a stakeholder in the nutrition industry, this report provides thorough and insightful analysis of the forces shaping the landscape to come​.”

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