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Tailoring Your Food and Beverage Products for Popular Diets: Keto, Paleo and Low-Sugar Trends

Tailoring Your Food and Beverage Products for Popular Diets: Keto, Paleo and Low-Sugar Trends

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Tailoring Your Food and Beverage Products for Popular Diets: Keto, Paleo and Low-Sugar Trends

May 11, 2022

Jack Payne
A spread of keto- and paleo-friendly food.

Specialized diets are nothing new. Followers of Judaism have adhered to the laws of Kashrut by eating only kosher foods for as long as the religion has existed, and likewise for Muslims who observe Islamic dietary laws that permit only halal foods.

Fad diets, most predicated on weight loss and backed by pseudoscience or mere conjecture, first began to emerge in the 1800s with Lord Byron’s “vinegar and water diet” and then burst into the mainstream with the grapefruit or “Hollywood” diet in the 1930s. More recent flashes in the proverbial pan include the Atkins, Zone and South Beach diets, all of which promote low carbohydrate intake and increased fat consumption.

Then, there are diets geared toward mitigating the problems of certain medical conditions, like gluten-free diets for those with celiac disease and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) plans for those suffering from high blood pressure. Finally, there are those that are popular today thanks to their purported health benefits, such as ketogenic (or “keto”), paleolithic (or “paleo”) and low- or no-sugar diets.

What does all this mean to you as a food and beverage industry professional? And where can you find examples of businesses succeeding with products tailored to adherents of these diets? Read on to learn more.

The Importance of Catering to Consumer Preferences

Forgive me if you’ve heard this before, but in order for your brand to remain relevant, you must keep up with trends in the market and adapt your product lineup according to the tastes of the day. This demonstrates your company’s ability to innovate and shows consideration for those with dietary considerations.

More importantly, though, it allows you to capitalize on the opportunity of selling targeted items to a ready and willing customer base. While latching on to the latest fad and spinning off a full lineup dedicated to the “next big thing” could very well backfire should the diet in question be unhealthy or ineffective, the three we’ll discuss here all merit attention if your organization wants to claim a slice of a specific market.

First, though, a brief note on plant-based diets and the prevalence of products for that segment—we’ve covered that subject in-depth previously, so we’ve chosen to omit it here in order to focus on others that warrant a look.

Opportunities in Keto Products

Ketogenic diets were first developed in the 1920s to treat refractory epilepsy in children. By eating foods high in fat but low in carbohydrates while also ensuring adequate protein intake, the body is forced to replace glucose as an energy source with ketone bodies, and this was found to lower the incidence of seizures in patients.

Adoption of keto diets has surged in popularity recently thanks to their effects of weight loss and blood sugar control. While the exact specifications vary, most prescribe a maximum carb intake of 50 grams per day, though further reduction to as little as 20 grams is considered more optimal. Some who follow the plan count “net carbs”—or total carbs minus fiber—while others stick to the traditional definition.

Keto and “keto-friendly” products are everywhere, across a variety of sectors in the food and beverage industry. The market is exploding, with a valuation of $9.7 billion in 2018 and a projection from Insight Partners putting it at $15.6 billion by 2027. Good examples of successful offerings are the full lineup of snacks and cereals from Catalina Crunch and Primal Kitchen’s sauces, spreads, oils and dressings.

Opportunities in Paleo Products

The concepts that would plant the seed for today’s paleo trend were first set forth by Arnold DeVries in his 1952 book Primitive Man and His Food. Richard Mackarness took it a step further in 1958, when he dubbed the plan the “Stone Age diet” and authored Eat Fat and Grow Slim.

Modern paleo diets are based on the theory of going back to our roots and eating as our distant ancestors did by consuming only those foods that occur naturally while cutting out anything processed or otherwise produced by manmade means. That means no dairy, grains or legumes, among other product categories—leaving the staples of meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts and healthy fats and oils as the primary sources of nutrition.

The appetite for paleo products is present and growing, with a market valuation of $10.3 billion as of this year and forecasts of an increase to $16.6 billion by 2032. Brands finding a receptive audience for their paleo products include RXBAR, with its protein bars and nut butters appealing to followers of the diet, as well as Bob’s Red Mill with their suite of paleo-friendly baking flours.

Opportunities in Low- and No-Sugar Products

Low- and no-sugar (or no-sugar-added) diets are less defined as a group than keto and paleo diets, but the shared premise is simple—keep sugar to a minimum to reduce caloric intake. Even the World Health Organization is on-board with that message, as their guidelines for a healthy diet recommend free sugar should constitute 10% or less of total energy intake.

Some people take up a low-sugar lifestyle to manage their glycemic index, particularly those individuals living with diabetes. More general no-sugar diets take a simple approach of focusing on foods universally accepted to be good for you, like fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, while cutting out processed items more likely to have sugar added to their recipes.

Of course, there will always be those that crave satisfaction for their sweet tooth, and that’s where sugar substitutes like aspartame, stevia, sugar alcohols and more come into the picture. That market is surprisingly large itself, coming in at $6.35 billion in 2018 and projected to hit $10.3 billion by 2026.

But beyond that, consider that Datassential found that more than half—53%—of all consumers are avoiding or actively limiting sugar consumption, and you can see how just about any food and beverage business would want to look into ways they can cut back on how much they add to their products. Jerky producer Chef’s Cut has a line of sugar-free meat snacks that really pack in the protein, and the entire Quest brand is built on the premise that all their offerings have minimal sugar added.

Getting in on the Specialized Diet Game

If you’ve reached the bottom of this post energized and eager to find new ways to cater to the keto, paleo and low- or no-sugar markets, good—but keep in mind that in order to maximize your chances of success, you need to have the right tools for the task. You’ll have to line up new ingredient providers, conduct extensive testing and create a cohesive marketing strategy.

For an all-in-one system that assists on all those fronts, businesses like yours turn to enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, and specifically those built for the food and beverage industry. With a supplier portal to introduce your new partners seamlessly; recipe and formula management tools for your research and development department; and an organization-wide interface that fosters collaboration between teams, you’ll be able to manage all aspects of the process at a holistic level.

Advanced systems like our own Aptean Food & Beverage ERP also integrate with complementary offerings like product lifecycle management (PLM) platforms. These help you master each step in the process of bringing a new offering to market, from getting the portions and manufacturing methods just right to maintaining the necessary documentation for compliance and even automating the creation of nutrition labels.

For one more benefit of choosing us as your technology partner, there’s our flexible cloud deployments for a lightweight implementation that still delivers on the full suite of powerful features and functionalities that our clients love. Dedicated IT teams and redundant offsite servers help to maximize reliability and security of the service, making this a great choice for companies looking to future-proof their setup.

Want to learn more about Aptean Food & Beverage ERP and our complete lineup of additional solutions that can drive your forays into new markets? Contact us today. We’re also happy to schedule a personalized demo for any of our systems so you can see how they function in practice.

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