Friday, February 27, 2009

High calcium intake may reduce risk of digestive cancer

A study was just completed by the National Cancer Institute on the link between calcium intake and cancer diagnosis in men and women ages 50 to 71. Calcium is already known to boost bone health, but more research was needed to evaluate calcium 's effect on cancer. Nearly 500,000 participated in this study. The 20% of men who consumed the most calcium (about 1530 mg per day) had a 16% lower risk of digestive cancer as compared to the 20% of men who consumed the least (about 526 mg per day). For women, the 20% who consumed the most calcium (about 1881 mg) had a 23% lower risk of digestive cancer as compared to the 20% of women who consumed the least (about 494 mg per day).

The Institute of Medicine recommends 1200 mg of calcium per day for men and women over age 50.

As a food producer, would you consider adding calcium to your product based on this study? If your product contains calcium, would you consider advertising the health benefits of products containing calcium?

calcium article

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Marketing Choices

I recently read an article on MSNBC.com that shared the story of a small Vermont business and their experience with an addition made to the products sold in their store and catalog. The business bills itself as "purveyors of the practical and hard to find," offering such items as kitchen wares, suspenders, pine tar soap, and socks.

The owner of the business, a gentleman in his mid-sixties, decided to begin offering a non-traditional line of products - of the intimate variety - hoping they might appeal to older customers. This decision was made without any customer requests for these products or market research. In fact, the owner's own sons disagreed with the decision.

How did this experiment work out? Well, the business claims that the new products are big sellers. However, they also admit to receiving hundreds of letters expressing opposition to the new product offering with some asking to be removed from the mailing list. Debate also continues as to whether the new products have helped or hurt the business.

While their experience is certainly unique, I think it holds a valuable lesson for all marketers. You must know your customers and make strategic marketing decisions. If you don't, you risk losing customers that disagree with the direction you've taken or who's needs you no longer meet. Perhaps this is okay, but unless you can replace those customers with new ones, you risk losing your business.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Healthier Dairy Products?

Probiotics and prebiotics are some of the newest additions to healthier foods. What are they exactly? Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can be found in various foods. When you eat probiotics, you will add these healthy bacteria to your intestinal tract. Prebiotics are non-digestible foods that make their way through your digestive system and help good bacteria grow and flourish.

In dairy products, prebiotics/probiotics are most commonly found in yogurt. According to Mintel International Group Ltd (a global consumer, product, and market research firm), the number of people who bought prebiotics/probiotics grew by 8% from 2006 to 2008. The number of probiotic yogurts launched in the USA rose from 14 in 2006 to 31 in 2007.

Where else are prebiotics/probiotics being used? According to Mintel, 5 new probiotic cheeses were introduced in 2007 as compared to 0 in 2006. Companies like Kraft, DCI Cheese Co., and CHR Hansen (a company that develops natural ingredient solutions such as cultures, enzymes, colors and functional blends for ag products) have developed probiotic cheese products. "The market is not moving away from probiotic yogurt, but the good message from probiotics are spreading out and cheese is an excellent carrier for probiotics," says Nanna Borne, marketing manager for CHR Hansen. "Consumers who are used to probiotic yogurts will find it natural that other dairy products also come in probiotic versions."

How do you feel about adding prebiotics/probiotics to your products? Do you think your customers are looking for prebiotics/probiotics in your products? Do you feel that if you added prebiotics/probiotics you would increase sales?

Charged-up Cheese article