Innovative Food Brands Sneak Veggies on to Your Plate

Clean eating is taking over as more people connect their health to the food they eat. Many consumers are moving away from eating artificial ingredients for better and healthier options. Food companies are taking advantage by adding fruits and veggies to a variety of convenient foods that consumers eat.

The Clean Eating Shift

sneaky veggies innovative foodThis shift towards clean eating has not gone undetected by food manufacturers. As a result, many manufacturers have developed new products with one goal in mind and that is to create delicious products charged with clean ingredients.

In a study conducted by the Produce for Better Health Foundation in 2015, researchers noted that the per capita consumption of vegetable decreased to 7% in the years 2009 to 2014. This was attributed to people consuming fewer side dishes during their meals.

The US Department of Agriculture recommends eating at least five cups of fruits and vegetables every day, but Americans only average two cups daily. This dietary problem was acknowledged and seen as an incredible opportunity for food manufacturers to create food products that use fruits and vegetables creatively to fill the nutritional void in most Americans.

Innovative Hidden Veggies

Companies such as Archer Daniels Midland, Green Giant and B&G Foods are now rolling out new products that sneak fruits and vegetables in them. For instance, the Green Giant brand introduced a new line of frozen veggie products like mashed cauliflower, veggie tots, and roasted vegetables.

innovative hidden veggies good health

Vice president and general manager of Green Giant, Jordan Greenberg, noted that many consumers are looking for products that are not only convenient but also healthy. Many companies are seeking alternatives to starches as well as looking for ways on how to introduce vegetables to children in the most appealing ways.

While this trend is very popular today, many marketing analysts of food companies believe that the trend will not die down anytime soon. In the food prediction trend called The Pinterest 100, the website noted that people will still continue to follow the trend of cutting their calorie intake by swapping vegetables for their carbohydrate and meat comfort foods.

Aside from prepared foods and meals, food manufacturers have also created drinks that are based on fruits and vegetables. Unique combinations of fruit drinks like ginger-pumpkin-orange or cucumber-kiwi-spinach have already found their way onto store shelves.

With the increasing obesity rate in the United States, many Americans are trying to eat clean and better. The problem is that most consumers are not willing to give up their comfort foods, so they don’t bother doing clean eating at all. As a result, a large population of Americans remains overweight. To answer the need of consumers for satisfying yet clean and healthy foods, many food businesses have found a new niche and have innovative products that incorporate fruits, vegetables, and other natural ingredients to provide real nutrition and not just empty calories to consumers. This results in a win-win situation for both consumers and food manufacturers.

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USDA Reported Trends in Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables

Although there is a strong campaign for Americans to eat fruits and vegetables, the Economic Research Service (ERS) noted that the total consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables have fallen from 299 pounds to 272 pounds per person within ten years. The study was conducted from 2003 to 2013. The widespread decline of eating fruits and vegetables can pose serious threats to overall health. This article will discuss the trends reported by the USDA regarding the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Potatoes Cause the Decline of Vegetable Consumption

The USDA observed a decline in the consumption of the total number of vegetables, which was driven by the reduced consumption of potatoes. Boys between the age of 2 and 19 consumed only 45.2 pounds in 2008 as opposed to the 63.7 pounds per person annually. So why is vegetable consumption affected by the decline of potato consumption? The reason probably is that potatoes, as a staple food for most American families, are often mixed with other vegetables. Although this data suggests a grim result, it also revealed that consumption of some vegetables like broccoli, leafy greens, cauliflower, and peppers have increased.

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Higher Income is Directly Correlated to Vegetable Consumption

Researchers observed that people from households with incomes below the poverty level consumed fewer vegetables than those above the poverty line. Education plays a crucial role in making healthy food choices. In the study, college-educated adults consumed 187.4 pounds of vegetables compared to those who only attained high school education (181.9 pounds). While the quality of education can affect the food choices of people, the trend is fueled by their economic power. The ability to afford more nutritious foods is higher for college-educated adults than those who only have a high school education.

Whole Fruit Consumption is Not Consistent for Demographic Groups

There is a decline in the consumption of orange juice across all demographic groups. However, the trend of whole fruit consumption is not compatible. This can be a problem since many consumers are not taking the recommended daily intake of fiber from fruits. It had declined from 71.9 pounds per person annually from 1998 to 65.4 pounds in 2008. Again, this can be attributed to the income status of a person as well as the cultural background.

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USDA Says Substitution is Becoming a Norm

Substituting the products is becoming evident among many consumers. For instance, many users use leafy greens like spinach or kale instead of lettuce.  While there is a decline in the consumption of citrus fruits, it has been found that most consumers prefer to eat berries instead. One of the reasons for this trend is that consumers are opting for ingredients that are healthier.

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Creative Marketing Strategies Can Help Kids Eat Veggies

Most parents find it difficult to get their kids to eat veggies. But with the right help, parents may be able to locate the solution, thanks to creative marketing strategies. Researchers from Ohio State University in Columbus used a simple method to encourage children to eat fruits and vegetables. They placed banners in school cafeterias that feature vegetable animated characters dubbed as the Super Sprowtz. These featured characters are Zach Zucchini, Miki Mushroom, and Suzie Sweet Pea.

Research on How Marketing Impacts Consumption of Veggies

They observed if the banner increased the likelihood of kids picking up veggies and salads and eating it. Four weeks after the creative marketing strategy was established, researchers noted that the number of school children who took vegetables from the cafeteria salad bars tripled. According to assistant professor Andrew Hanks, creative marketing strategies are very powerful when used correctly to encourage children to make healthy choices when it comes to their foods.

The schools were randomly assigned to different groups which include the typical cafeteria setup and one where the Super Sprowtz was used. For schools which feature the creative marketing strategy, some used only vinyl banners or videos while others had both banners and videos.


The study showed that while there is an increased number of students from 13% to 24% who took vegetables from the salad bars from schools that featured only the banners, a tremendous increase from 10% to 35% was observed in schools with both banners and videos. Interestingly enough, schools that had the regular cafeteria setup, as well as those that only used videos, did not observe any improvement. The researchers concluded that the videos were not an actual part of the salad bar, which created a disconnect to the students.

This study produced a positive light on advertising. According to Tamara Melton, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, using creative marketing strategies is a great way for schools to promote eating healthy food to the children. Another advantage of this particular approach is that it is very affordable for most schools.

Can Super Sprowtz Sustain Interest in Veggies?

However, the challenge is that while this tactic is useful in the first few weeks, the novelty may wear off. It is crucial to adapt through time as what works for school children may not readily translate for the older kids. The character Zach Zucchini from Super Sprowtz may no longer appeal teenagers. The key here is how to develop a taste for veggies and fruits to children so that they retain it once they are older.


The responsibility of feeding vegetables to children also falls on the shoulders of parents. Melton mentioned that parents could also encourage young kids to eat vegetables by setting examples. Letting kids prepare their fruits and vegetables is also an effective way of making them appreciate such type of foods. Lastly, growing a small home garden is also a great way to introduce vegetables to children at a young age.

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World Food Prices Fell to Seven Year Low in January 2016

Since January 2016, world food prices dropped to a seven-year low, going down as much as 1.9% below that of December 2015’s food prices. The Food Price Index was at 150.4 points, 16% lower than the previous year.

The FAO Food Prices Index

world food pricesSo what is the Food Price Index and why is it important? It is a trade-weighted index that tracks the prices of basic commodity groups like cereals, dairy, oilseeds, sugar, and meat in the international market.  It measures the monthly changes in the international prices of the common food commodities consumed worldwide.

The value of the world food prices is affected largely by different factors including:

(1) conditions of the global economy
(2) strengthening or weakening of the US dollar
(3) supply conditions in agriculture
(4) the micro-conditions of different countries

All of the basic commodities are affected differently by these factors.

For instance, the price of dairy products in the international market fell by as much as 28.5% because the industry was hit by a surplus of supplies alongside falling demand. This trend was also noted for meat products which are 15.1% cheaper since January 2015 because of the high supply of pork meat. On the other hand, the positive situation of wheat production led FAO to increase its estimate of the world cereal output in 2015. However, this increased estimate was still 1.2% below the recorded harvest of the previous year.

Although there is a seven-year downward trend of the food prices in the international market, this does not mean that there is a huge surplus of the five basic commodities. The food price index is an average measurement and does not us  give the total picture of what is going on in the commodity production. For instance, the micro conditions such as El Niño have a direct effect on agriculture which leads to a low production of commodities like dairy and wheat.

In a specific example, the crop prospects in Southern Africa have been weakened by the El Niño phenomenon which resulted in the prediction by FAO that wheat output in the region can go down by as much as 25%.  Moreover, the dry weather in Ukraine and Brazil also impaired the planting season of the farmers.

Agriculture in the different regions of the world is unique from one country to  another. Some places are experiencing severe weather conditions that are unfavorable for planting while agriculture conditions in places like Russia compensate for the low production of other countries. This has created a buffer for the world food prices.

World Food Prices Shopping Consumer

What Does This Indicate

Just like the other price indices (stock and commodities), the international world food price index is entering the bear market and it can be a sign of the presence of mild inflation. While it might be a cause of alarm for producers as the high supply meets the low demand, consumers can use this opportunity to buy more of the five basic commodities to help improve agriculture, the flow of products, and the market as well.

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Ugly Fruits and Vegetables: The Solution to World Hunger

At least 800 million of the world’s population suffers from hunger. While food production rates soar, the amount of food wasted yearly is 2.9 trillion pounds, a quantity that can feed those suffering from hunger twice. These statistics beg the question – how does a third of the world’s food end up wasted?

The Link Between Ugly Food and World Hunger

National Geographic recently shared a story on a food project that involves cooking with food wasted at a typical supermarket. Activist Tristram Stuart to demonstrate the usefulness of discarded food, created a project to make restaurant meals for 50 within 24 hours. The ingredients would be food ingredients that were deemed unfit for use from farms and sellers in New Jersey. Stuart sourced ingredients from vendors who had quite a bit of crookneck squash, beet greens, apples, and wheatgrass. The project ended in bowls of squash tempura, zucchini noodles, and turnip and tofu dumplings.

The 24-hour challenge leads to important revelations about food wastage. Most food goes to waste and remains unsold due to how it looks. Further, Stuart shares his chat with Luis Garibaldi, owner of Fundo Maria Luisa, the largest grower of mandarins. He asked how much of it is exported and what becomes of the discarded produce. Garibaldi stated that while 70% is exported to North America and the European Union, 30% of it is either blemished, sunburnt, isn’t the right color and size or lacks sweetness and is rejected. The rejects are then sent to local markets at one-third of the price. This brings us to the cosmetic standards most producers and buyers attach to food. The supermarket standards for fruits and vegetables is creating the food waste problem. But we cannot just blame the supermarkets because their standards were built on consumer expectations. Consumers have to grow comfortable with eating ugly fruits and vegetables for us to change society and reverse the food waste problem.ugly fruits and vegetables what the fork world hunger

While the global hunger issue continues to evolve, the population in developing and developed countries wastes quite a bit of edible food. Most of the food are lost because it loses its shelf life in the process of exportation as well. It has drastic environmental consequences. The food production process uses a ton of natural resources including land and water. We can quickly draw the conclusion that wasting food is equivalent to wasting precious resources.

Ugly Fruits and Vegetables Could be the Solution

Reducing food waste is now on the agenda internationally. Ugly fruits and vegetables might just be the solution to world hunger. The waste that happens between the farm, the grocery store, and at home is enough to feed millions. Food that is edible yet rendered unappealing due to its appearance can be put to good use and gradually help the rest of the world eat.

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Brain Health Connected To What We Eat

There are many ways to keep the mind sharp. Exercise, sleep, meditation and of course a healthy diet. A healthy and nutritious diet supports the brain rather than stifles it. A diet that forces the body to expend energy for digestion after eating steals energy from the brain for thinking. Brain supportive foods include fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, fish, lean meats, and certain fats such as those in nuts that have been processed naturally. They are not acidic, and they promote alkalinity in the body. Sugar and carbohydrates tax the body and make it sluggish and acidic.

Scientific American has concluded that there is a large correlation between a healthy diet and our mood. Depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, lack of focus and dementia come with age as well as the ability to control mood diminishes. Scientific American believes that the best way to combat the mood changes is by choosing a brain healthy diet.

Our Diet is a Big Indicator of Brain Health

Scientific American has listed three classifications that help the brain remain healthy. They state that foods rich in Omega-3 such as fish oil and fish help fight depression. Pickles and other fermented food help combat anxiety while antioxidant foods like green tea and fruits help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, forgetfulness, and eventual dementia.

We lack these types of food in the western diet. The diet of the West consists of processed or frozen food with high amounts of sugar, preservatives, coloring, flavorings, and bad cholesterol. A new study found out that western diets, such as fast food diets shrunk the brain’s hippocampus as evidenced by MRI scans. The hippocampus is that part of the brain that is essential for memory and mood control.

In another study conducted at Rush University in Chicago, it was concluded that a combination of a Mediterranean diet with a high nutrient, low salt diet helped prevent hypertension and Alzheimer’s disease. The adults tested even had higher scores in cognitive abilities than people who were younger than them. This study was done on a thousand subjects.

We still have a lot to learn when it comes to determining the relationship between diet and brain health, but we know without a doubt that food is connected to our health.

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Adults Not Meeting Daily Value of Fruits and Vegetables

Eating more fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of heart disease, strokes, some cancers, and also adds vital nutrients to our diets. When consumed in place of more energy-dense foods, vegetables and fruits can help in managing body weight. It is recommended that adults who engage in less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity should consume 2 – 3 cups of vegetables and 1.5 – 2.0 cups of fruits daily.

There are two methods of determining the daily vegetable and fruit intake recommendations for adults who engage in less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. The first is the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) while the other is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and is expressed in cup equivalents. However, a recent study conducted during 2007 – 2010 found that half of the total U.S. population consumed less than 1.5 cups of vegetables and less than one cup of fruit daily; 87 percent did not meet the daily value recommendations, and 76 percent did not meet fruit intake recommendations. National estimates indicate low fruit and vegetable consumption with substantial variation by state.

CDC’s Model Says Fruits and Vegetables Intake is Abysmal

fruits and vegetablesVegetable and fruit consumption information are available from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which is the sole source of dietary surveillance information for most states. However, the federal vegetable and fruit intake recommendations, expressed in cup equivalents are not directly comparable to the frequency of input captured by BRFSS.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) did an analysis of the median daily frequency of vegetable and fruit intake based on BRFSS’s 2013 data for the District of Columbia and the 50 states. They applied newly developed prediction equations to BRFSS to calculate the percentage of the population of each state that meets vegetable and fruit intake recommendations.  The result was a bit disturbing. Overall, only 13.1 percent of the participants met the recommended fruit intake, ranging from 17.7 percent in California to 7.5 percent in Tennessee, and 8.9 percent met the recommended vegetable intake, ranging from 13.0 percent in California to 5.5 percent in Mississippi.  What this means is that a lot of effort is needed to build consumer demand for vegetables and fruits through placement, competitive pricing, and promotion in schools, child care, grocery stores, worksites, and communities.

Since vegetable and fruit consumption is currently low across all states and affects multiple health outcomes, continued efforts are needed to increase demand and consumption. Improving intake during childhood might be the key to improving fruits and vegetables consumption for adults.

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NutriFusion® to the Rescue

All the research points to the health and nutrition benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. The problem is we are not doing a good job as a society in encouraging that behavior and making fruit and vegetable nutrition readily available. This study by the CDC speaks to why we do what we do. Our special blends give consumer packaged food companies, beverage companies, and supplement companies the ability to incorporate natural nutrition from fruits and vegetables into their products. NutriFusion® is processing stable meaning that it can withstand the heating and cooling of modern day food processing. The NutriFusion® innovation is leading a revolution in the food industry to use simpler ingredients and make some of our favorite foods much better for us. If you are interested in learning more about NutriFusion® for your processed foods, beverages, or supplements, please click below.


Pregnant Women Not Eating Daily Value of Fruits and Veggies

According to a report by American Baby called “What Pregnant Women Really Eat,” around 80 percent of pregnant women take chances in eating hazardous foods while more than 60 percent are not able to meet daily nutritional requirements for fruits and vegetables.

70 percent of respondents say that they ate healthier when they became pregnant while a large number are not following the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. There are a lot of reasons for these nutritional deficiencies. For one, women suffer from a variety of medical conditions during pregnancy leading to food aversions during this period.

Mindy Walker, Executive Editor of American Baby, said that factors such as time constraints, food aversions and convenience in shopping for healthy foods are top reasons why pregnant women are missing out on eating healthy. She also cited some good news, though.

Even with these changes in nutrition, around 90 percent of pregnant women say no to drinking alcohol, 80 percent begin their day by eating breakfast and about 85 percent follow caffeine restriction guidelines. All of these are vital in a healthy pregnancy.


Food Cravings in Pregnant Women

A high percentage of respondents revealed that they suffer from food cravings. More than 80 percent prefer to eat foods such as ice cream, chocolates, pretzels, cookies, chips and candy. Although these are very common, a lot of women also admit to eating foods that could place them at risk such as uncooked food, unpasteurized cheeses and premade deli salads. These foods could be dangerous since these may contain listeria that could lead to terrible complications during pregnancy.

The survey also reported that around 60 percent of the respondents are aware of weight gain during pregnancy and over a third said that they have suffered from obesity or being overweight. From the number of women that became obese during their pregnancies, they revealed that their physicians did not explain the possibilities of gestational diabetes, hypertension and caesarian delivery. Both the mother and her child are at risk for a lot of life-threatening medical conditions. We should devise a strategy to enhance the nutritional education of pregnant women.

NutriFusion® Can Boost Nutrition for Pregnant Women

Pregnancy is a long nine months for women, and it’s difficult to stick to a healthy diet. As mentioned in the study, many women face the urge of food cravings for processed snack foods like cookies, ice cream, chips, pretzels, and candy. We think it’s unreasonable to expect women to resist those urges all of the time. Our products can help processed food companies make “better for you” snacks with the vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables. We urge pregnant women and other consumers to push your favorite brands to switch to NutriFusion® and start boosting your nutrition today!