It’s a new year and that means food manufacturers will be catering to current consumer interest. According to Nancy Jones of the Gaston Gazette, here are a few trends consumers will see in 2010:

1. An increase in nutrition symbol information. Many people want adequate, easy to understand nutrition information about the food(s) they are purchasing. However, the information is still confusing, and consumers remain skeptical about the information on the label. 48% of consumers claim if the amount of calories were placed on the front of the package it would play an influence in their caloric intake.

2. Sodium reduction. If the trend of information regarding the health benefit of reducing sodium intake (currently the American Heart Association recommends a daily intake of ~2300 mg) continues, shoppers will likely listen, look and buy foods lower in sodium. 51% of Americans claim they usually or always watch their sodium intake.

3. Buying local. 43% of Americans state they try to buy local when possible. The term “local” will evolve in 2010.

4. Packaging. The trend for 2010 is to turn ordinary products into an extraordinary package to purchase. Marketing to eye appeal does work and can enhance and encourage the consumer to buy a particular product.

5. Color coding. More manufacturers will start to color code their products to make it easier for the shopper to find their favorite item. 64% of Americans claim that if packaging within a brand was color coded, it would help them with their selection.

6. Private label brand recognition. With personal income being put to a test with current economic conditions, many shoppers have reduced and changed their spending habits. In response, marketing efforts have increased for private label brands. Private label brands are the brands each particular grocer carries with their particular label or name recognition. Consumers are now associating private label brands with national brands. Typically private label brands are cheaper. Many a consumer has begun to view these brands as high quality and lower cost.

7. Trends in flavor. The interest in potential health benefits of herbs and spices continues to grow. With that, more foods with ethnic flavors are popping up on grocery store shelves. A few examples include items with cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger.

8. Nutrition Ranking Systems. David Grotto, RD, LDN, author of “101 Foods that Could Save Your Life”, and the newly released “101 Optimal Life Foods” summarizes a number of nutrition ranking programs that are popping up on food products. The article was published in Bottom Line Health October 2009. Additional programs with nutrition symbols on their labels include:

a. Guiding Stars. The program was developed by a panel of expert nutrition scientists. It has been implemented in ~1,450 East Coast grocery stores in the United States (US). Some of these retailers include Hannaford, Food Lion, Bloom and Sweetbay. This program may soon be implemented nationwide. Over 45,000 items are scored using a system of credits and debits. Credit items include vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and whole grains. Debited items consist of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sodium, and added sugars. “Foods are rated only when credit outweighs debits,” states Grotto, “so some foods such as canned vegetables and whole-fat yogurt, are not rated with this system.” Additional categories that are not included in the rating include alcoholic beverages, bottled water, spices, coffee and tea. Guiding stars ranking system consists of stars-one for good, two for better, and three for best rating. For more information go to

b. Healthy Ideas. This program was developed by a panel of nutritionists, along with an advisory board including physicians, food industry executives, and others. Retailers utilizing this logo include Giant Good and Stop & Shop. For a particular product to qualify, it must meet criteria established by the FDA and USDA guidelines as a “healthy” item. Additionally the product must contain 10% of the daily value of at least one or more nutrients such as vitamin A, C, protein, fiber, calcium or iron. For more information go to

c. NUVAL. This program was also developed by a panel of independent health and nutrition experts and led by David Katz, MD, MPH, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center. The program is utilized at Price Chopper, HyVee, and Meijer. It consists of a ranking system of 30 nutrients and nutrition factors, such as protein, sodium, cholesterol, omega fatty acids, etc. A product is ranked on its overall nutritional quality index (ONQI™) and how it fits into a healthy lifestyle. For more specific information go to www.nuval.

d. Smart Choices Program. Launched in 2009 (see blog post 8/8/09), the program is a joint effort of food manufacturers along with the American Dietetic Association and American Heart Association. It was launched nationwide. Its ranking system is a check mark and is based on 19 product categories. However, at present the program is being revamped. For more information go to

In summary, health, nutrition, and sustainability will continue to be on the watchful eye of the consumer. Manufacturers are “getting it” and changing their ways.

Many have become more particular about where their product ingredients come from and how they are brought to market. They look at the practices of agriculture, marine stewardship, and other environmental and societal factors. Additional considerations include use of natural resources in packaging and transportation. Things will continue to change and evolve for the better.

Author's Bio: 

Susan M. Piergeorge, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian. Her background includes nutritional counseling, health promotion, food and culinary experience. She has authored a book, "Boomer Be Well," which will be published in 2010. Her blog is