‘Clean’ eating is changing Thanksgiving

November 11, 2017

Americans are spending more on “clean” ingredients leading up to Thanksgiving than they do during an average week in a year—and that may mean that the turkey is missing from some tables for this holiday meal. But even so, family and friends will be doing lots of gobbling of the healthy kind.

Whether consumers are stocking up on superfoods, shopping for specialty diet attributes, selecting meats with animal welfare claims, or serving no meat at all, these trends show a promising period for retailers, based on a recently released national opinion poll.

The Nielsen survey finds that 39% of Americans are skipping meat protein, altogether, and actively are trying to include more plant-based foods in their holiday diet, whether for health reasons or personal preferences.

Data from Nielsen Product Insider, powered by Label Insight, find that vegan and paleo and traditional consumers, alike, are planning to buy lots of produce. Two familiar Thanksgiving staples found in pies and casseroles actually can be classified as superfoods because of their high vitamin A and C content and antioxidant benefits—sweet potatoes and cinnamon.

Sweet potatoes sold in the produce section of stores brought in $420 million in sales during the 52 weeks ended Sept. 30—up 0.6% from the prior year, and consumers are predicted to spend  $48.8 million at the register, Nielsen says, during the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

But opportunities for growth for this healthful vegetable reach much farther than the perimeter of the store. Products containing sweet potato as an ingredient sold an average of 30% more dollars in the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving 2016 compared to the average week. In the dessert aisle, products containing sweet potato as an ingredient saw more than five times as many dollars spent during the same period, with sales up 88% compared to the same period in 2015.

Cinnamon, another nutrient-rich spice, is an ideal complement to many sweet potato dishes. It’s also one that sees higher sales around the holidays, with consumers spending an average of 13% more on cinnamon during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving last year than during an average week.

In addition, consumers usually spend more than twice as much on desserts with cinnamon in the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving than during an average week. Other categories with cinnamon as an ingredient that have seen higher dollar sales during the Thanksgiving period include cheese (82%), packaged teas (25%), candy/gum/mints (25%), processed meats (21%) and nut butters/jams/jellies (15%).

In the meat category, the use of terms such as “organic” and “natural” means more to consumers this year than ever before, Nielsen says. Americans also are planning to fill their shopping carts with turkey, ham, and non-traditional Thanksgiving meats like chicken and bacon.

Indeed, Americans will be looking for clean foods in every category and the label will be front and center for those who are concerned about content. Nielsen advises producers to make it a holiday during which everyone can be proud and “thankful” for the ingredients of their meals.

Nielsen prepared this report using three different reports: (1) Nielsen Product Insider, powered by Label Insight, weeks ended Nov. 26, 2016; Nov. 19, 2016; and Nov. 12, 2016; (2) Nielsen FreshFacts, Total U.S., weeks ended Nov. 26, 2016; Nov. 19, 2016; and Nov. 12, 2016; and (3) Nielsen FreshFacts, Total U.S., 52 weeks ended Sept. 30, 2017.

Research contact: genevieve.aronson@nielsen.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *