Companies capitalizing on healthy food trend

FILE - In this March 8, 2010 file photo, Krista Johnson passes an order to a customer at a Panera store in Brookline, Mass. Panera on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 announced it will remove artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives from its food by 2016, a reflection of the growing distaste people are showing for such ingredients. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Small companies are capitalizing on the concept that consumers are demanding healthier food — and now major corporations are following suit.

At a popcorn factory in Harlem, brother and sister Jeff and Jen Martin manufacture “Pipcorn,” a new snack that’s natural and gluten free.

The healthy popcorn is also vegan — which has proven to be a huge selling point.

“So many people are conscious of what they are putting into their body,” Jen said.

And it’s not just start-up companies that are going natural — many of the nation’s biggest food champions are also changing up their recipes.

Kraft recently announced it was removing artificial orange and yellow dye from its beloved mac and cheese — and Tyson said it is getting ride of antibiotics in its chicken.

Chipotle removed all genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, while Panera started cutting out artificial ingredients.

And McDonald’s vowed to simplify it’s chicken recipe — knocking out any ingredients customers cannot pronounce.

Marketing professor Michelle Greenwald said Americans are beginning to become more aware of their health, looking for natural foods without artificial ingredients. She said customers are even willing to pay more for healthier products.

“Getting back to more natural ingredients,” she said. “It’s a quality of life issue that’s kind of an affordable indulgence.”

And customers really do want good quality food. After just three years, the Martins say they’re already expanding to keep up with the demand for an all-natural food  — a demand they say is “popping.”

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