Has the market become more health conscious?

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MA. LUISA DELAYCO

When I go to the supermarket these days I often see people reading the back labels of the food products they are about to purchase, checking if the ingredients are organic or synthetic. This behavior is also becoming more evident among mothers, like me, who, while doing their weekly grocery shopping, also educate their children about the need to check the product label and spot ingredients that are unsafe to eat. Did our parents scrutinize product labels as we do now? In my days as a youth I usually accompanied my mom to the grocery store, and I have no recollection of her checking product labels and ingredients.

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The 2016 Health and Wellness in the Philippines’ report of Euromonitor indicated that Filipinos are now starting to demand healthy food.

Last year, a group of students I supervised did qualitative research on health-conscious mothers and their behavior. These mothers belonged to the A&B socio-economic class, 36-45 years old and with kids aged 2-8 years old. The research showed that the respondents were willing to pay for quality food since they were “very particular about what they put in their bodies.” They were also asked about their feeding/eating behavior. Here are excerpts from the respondents’ replies:

“As much as possible, we don’t eat sugar”

“We make sure we give our two-year-old son natural juices.”

“We make sure the formula given does not have corn syrup.”

“We eat yogurt with fruits or granola.”

“The first thing I look for when I buy food products is the nutritional facts label.”

For this segment, healthy eating means variation, eating more vegetables and fruits, including yogurts, nuts and milk in the list.

Another report, released by Nielsen in 2015, showed two emerging product trends among Filipinos. These were products appropriate for a healthy lifestyle and products made of natural ingredients. Those mentioned as suitable for a healthy lifestyle also included good food habits and daily exercise. Meanwhile, products made of natural ingredients were those that had fresh, natural, pure and organic ingredients. The same report indicated that 68 percent of the ABC socioeconomic class is concerned about staying healthy and avoiding illnesses.

There is a growing consciousness about the negative effects of unhealthy food consumption. These include being overweight, or obese, and an increase in lifestyle-related illnesses. Lifestyle-related illnesses include coronary heart disease, stroke, influenza or pneumonia, tuberculosis, diabetes and cancers. According to the Department of Health, Ischaemic heart attack, stroke, and cancer are the leading causes of death among Filipinos. According to the Philippine Cancer Society, on the other hand, colon cancer is on the rise among Filipino males.

My observations among my younger colleagues are that they patronize healthy-meal-plan delivery services; that they are already taking maintenance medicine; and that they are into health and fitness activities. Given this health awareness, it is interesting to find out if the health-conscious market will grow and lower the incidence of lifestyle-related diseases. Or will the life insurance premiums for critical illnesses be material for the Philippine market and continue to be more expensive?

Dr. Maria Luisa Chua Delayco is an associate professor of Marketing at De La Salle University. She has been connected with the university since 1997 as a teacher, department chair and dean. She was dean of the RVR College of Business from 2014 to 2016. She welcomes comments at ma.luisa.delayco@dlsu.edu.ph. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty and its administrators.

MA. LUISA DELAYCO

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