Trendy healthy food packages way to go

17 Jan, 2021 - 00:01 0 Views
Trendy healthy food  packages way to go The outbreak of Covid-19 has created huge demand for healthy foods, thus creating an opportunity at industry level to produce and trade in these immune boosting diets

The Sunday Mail

Trade Focus

Allan Majuru

THE current messages circulating on social media encouraging Zimbabweans to drink green tea and consider steaming as responses to coronavirus, reflect the changing behaviours across the world that are impacting on consumer patterns. 

These consumer behaviours are no longer about developed countries alone as people across the world are increasingly becoming more health-conscious than ever. 

The healthy foods that are trending globally are those that are high in nutrients and low in calories.

Consumers have become more health conscious, demanding food products that contain natural ingredients, minimise food additives and sweeteners, and support health, dietary, and functional needs.

Moreover, people are now getting busier, which often translates to more snacking and greater demand on prepared and pre-packaged foods that are easily eaten on the go.

Consumers are now looking for immune booster foods that help prevent disease, have natural remedial properties such as anti-inflammatory benefits, relieve stress and reduce anxiety. 

At the same time, consumers are now looking for convenience in products that are packaged and are easy to carry, prepare and eat. 

So, what does the trend mean? 

Local exporters, particularly in the food industry, who wish to remain relevant in export markets must ensure their products offer health-benefits in the most convenient packaging possible. 

A report by the Netherlands-based Centre for Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) shows that European consumers are looking into consuming more fruits and vegetables in different forms. 

“More and more consumer trends are driven by the desire for portion control, personal choice, and variety”.

“Freshness and all-natural ingredients in flexible containers that are suitable for on-the-go lifestyles.” 

Even the mothers now demand portable packaged baby foods that they can easily open and feed to babies while on a road trip, doing shopping or when they are simply busy to prepare a meal. 

Potential healthy foods 

The outbreak of Covid-19 has created huge demand for healthy foods, thus creating an opportunity at industry level to produce and trade in these immune boosting diets.

Cognisant of the fact that the global shutdown will affect the distribution of these products, some gaps might be created in Zimbabwe’s non-traditional markets and this could be an opportunity for local producers if they produce more to capitalise on these gaps. 

The prices of healthy produce are also projected to go up, which might mean better earnings for exporters who produce more. 

Grand View Research estimated that the market size of healthy foods sometimes referred to as superfoods in 2018 was $137 billion and projected a Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 5 percent for the period 2019-2025.

Available data adds weight to this projection as world trade in most superfoods has been on an upward trend over the past few years. 

For example, the global trade value of avocados doubled in the years 2015-2019 from around US$3,86 billion to around US$7,27 billion respectively, according to Trade Map. 

During the same time, world trade in ginger also grew from US$853 million in 2015 to US$1,05 billion in 2019, representing a 23,4 percent increase. 

Total global imports of garlic also grew by US$367 million in 2019, from US$2,1 billion recorded the previous year to US$2,48 billion.

These figures point to a growing demand for healthy foods driven by current medical challenges brought by cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other ailments that boost immunity.

Zimbabwean manufacturers, farmers and exporters now need to come up with unique products considered to be healthy in quantities enough to meet demand, package them conveniently either as ready to eat products or ones that require further processing at home. 

Some of the low-hanging produce include varying herbs and spices such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, moringa, rosemary and thyme. 

Other healthy products that have been proven to perform well in Zimbabwean soils include blueberries, pineapples, avocados, peas, passion fruit, stone fruits, macadamia, sesame and chia seeds.

Participation in international food exhibitions has also revealed the huge potential for organic produce and Zimbabwean farmers having the advantage of a conducive climate and supply windows for horticultural production can invest in organic food production as well. 

Of importance, as with horticultural production in general, would be the need for certification of the produce for farmers and exporters who want to tap into the lucrative organic produce market.

To increase production of organic produce, there is a need to mainstream small-scale farmers into the export business as the interest has been growing amongst them. 

This will add additional revenue streams for rural communities, which will go a long way in improving livelihoods of rural communities in Zimbabwe. 

In addition to increasing production of organic produce and offering raw fresh fruits and vegetables, producers should consider providing interesting variations such as dried fruits combo, mixed with nuts, cereals, energy bars, chewy sticks, and individually packaged vegetable cuts which people can carry on them as they exercise or rush to work. 

This little value addition will allow local businesses to earn more, while at the same time store value for crops that are seasonal such as mangoes and stone fruits. 

Zimbabwe is a producer of various fruits such as pineapples, bananas, stone fruits, macadamia nuts, pecan nuts and these can be processed by drying or into puree for export purposes. 

Producers in Zimbabwe eyeing the international market need to appreciate the demands by consumers and invest in value addition as well, as it not only earns them more money, but comes with innovations that consumers are looking for.

It is encouraging to note that some local youth-led businesses are already developing business models that will take advantage of vast organic products that are grown across the country. 

For example, one youth-owned business that is taking part in the ZimTrade-implemented Eagle’s Nest Youth Export Incubation programme is processing cassava into different products including dried chip sticks, gluten free flour as well as avocado into coffee which has potential for export markets.

Another youth led enterprise is focusing on nutritious seed and grain-based foods with focus on making healthy eating enjoyable and has become a household brand available in major retail outlets and export markets. 

Sweet potatoes, also well grown in the country are known for their health benefits and producers can consider value adding these into small healthy snack packs that people can enjoy on the go.

Convenient packaging 

One factor of importance in exporting food stuffs is the packaging which must speak to the consumer. 

Among the different messages, the packaging communicates the brand and/or name of the producer; the ingredients and nutritional value contained in the product; the preservation method to ensure the product remains safe for the consumer. 

As consumers select the product of choice, several things come to mind such as how they will store the product, if they can carry it around or if it is healthy enough for their liking. 

As a Zimbabwean producer or exporter, these questions must always be answered in the choice of packaging that goes with the products. 

A growing trend in packaging is convenience packaging that enhances ease of use, both at home and on the go. 

Busy consumers want to make healthier choices while on the go and packaging that is easy to open, offers reclosability, flexibility and non-rigidity, portability and one-handed use are the demands placed by consumers on producers. 

Interesting developments over the years include the move to tetra pak packaging for milk products in varying sizes that are suited to that school child, or that individual and to the family packs. 

Nestle Zimbabwe managed to come up with convenient packaging for their cereal that are in portable satchets that offer individual servings. 

A growing small business, Glytime Foods, who are in the production of healthy breakfast cereal granola, have come up with flexible resealable packaging that promotes freshness of their cereals. 

Going forward, research on healthy eating trends as well as packaging preferred by buyers is always important to ensure that local companies stay abreast with what is happening in their industry. 

The Zimbabwe packaging industry needs to be cognisant of these changes and invest in machinery that allows them to offer such convenience packaging. 

Manufacturers of healthy foods must constantly analyse their current packaging operations and identify any areas in their production processes that require some upgrade, or even smaller adjustments to stay current with demand. 

To improve linkages between local manufacturers and producers of packaging materials, ZimTrade developed the Zimbabwe Packaging Portal (www.zimpackaging.co.zw), a key source of information on all things associated with packaging with content contributors taken from the packaging industry. Local business looking for convenient packaging should visit the platform and source assistance from all local producers of packaging products under one roof.

Allan Majuru is the chief executive officer of ZimTrade.

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