Demand for meal replacement products in US rising

Demand for weight management and wellbeing in the United States (US) meal replacements is forecast to continue rising over the next five years, with wellness and convenience carrying growth.

“Meal replacements have seen increasing popularity in the US due to the shift in consumer attitudes towards weight loss and overall wellbeing,” said Euromonitor Digest, a monthly online publication of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Export Marketing Bureau.

The report said that historically, meal replacement products have been targeted towards consumers aiming to limit caloric intake or lose weight, which ultimately limited the scope of audience for these types of products.

But the trend of wellness and faster-paced lifestyles over the past few years has altered the way consumers interact with food choice, it said.

The report said expanded product offerings from the likes of Soylent and Premier Protein offer a specific calorie count, the majority of essential nutrients and vitamins, and come in a convenient on-the-go format.

“As consumers continue to further engage with their own nutrition and calorie counting, meal replacements have evolved to simplify the process of eating as well as fill a need for the way consumers are merging weight management and lifestyle,” it said.

The report further said weight loss supplements and diet pills’ sales, however, continue to decline while sales of meal replacement have been rising.

“Many consumers are now opting for more well-rounded approaches to weight management featuring a complete diet and more exercise. As the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) updates efforts to increase consumer awareness surrounding dietary supplement safety, consumers will be looking further into avoiding products associated with adulteration or causing harm,” it added.

In line with the wellness trend that further manifested last year, the market for gyms and fitness studios has increased from greater demand.

“Younger millennial and Gen Z consumers coming from higher income classes have been raised with education that sedentary lifestyles and physical inactivity can lead to health complications later in life,” the report said.

It said larger gym businesses and boutique fitness studios have recently seen profits increase and have subsequently opened more studios, as they capitalize on the growing demand to be fit.

“This fitness trend has expanded the market for sports nutrition at the cost of weight management products. Product positioning is particularly valuable in aligning to new consumer values, thus weight management and wellbeing products likely could benefit from realigning their message to younger audiences and their tastes to prevent further movement away from the category,” it added.

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