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Canada health and wellness market reported healthy sales in 2012 despite slow economic recovery
Health and Wellness in Canada - a new market research report on 2014-04-01 19:19:04
Healthy sales but slow economic recovery is a challenge. While in a better economic situation than many other markets, Canada is seeing slower than expected recovery and growth, which also results in low consumer confidence and strict control on spending. These factors continue to influence the shopping patterns of many Canadians, especially those in lower and middle income groups. Reflecting these trends, and coupled with the highly developed and competitive retailing landscape, there is still strong emphasis on discounting and promotions by many retailers. This results in slower value growth as well as pricing concerns for those who seek a balance between health and budget. This affects the higher-priced products in health and wellness.

Regulatory environment continues to shape fortified/functional food trends. Although Canada has mandatory fortification for a number of categories such as dairy and white flour products, fortification beyond industry standards remains strictly regulated by government agencies such as Health Canada, which requires pre-marketing approval for fortified/functional products. While a problem for many, some manufacturers had success in sales and marketing despite being unable to make claims for the products. The most prominent example was probiotic yoghurt.

Consolidated sales but small players and private label see growth. Many product categories continue to show a high degree of consolidation, such as probiotic yoghurt and high fibre bread. Smaller players continue to seek entry into product categories that do well and/or promise long-term growth opportunities. An example is iögo – a new yoghurt brand introduced by Ultima Foods in Canada in mid-2012 with an extensive range of products including functional/fortified probiotic variety under iögo Probio. Additionally, leading private label products saw further expansion into health and wellness with new varieties introduced by retailers like Loblaws, Sobeys and Metro.

Mainstream grocery retailers remain the key distribution channel. Grocery supermarkets and hypermarkets continue to account for the largest share of health and wellness food and beverages sales, and many continue to develop store concepts and designs to stay ahead of competition. As Wal-Mart Canada continues to expand its Supercenter format, it introduced its new Urban 90 format designed for smaller urban spaces and placing food in a prominent position in the stores. At the same time, Loblaws Cos (still the leading grocery retailer in Canada) unveiled its new flagship Loblaws branded store at historic Maple Leaf Garden place. It emphasised healthier food and beverages options as well as gourmet food, including Tea Emporium, and produce with emphasis on organic products, as well as in-store dieticians who can help with food labels and healthier choices.

Modest growth forecast. Although positive, the overall expected constant value growth of Canadian packaged food and beverages is expected to be modest. However, some categories are projected to show above average growth, such as pro/pre biotic drinking yoghurt. Expected recovery, however slow, will likely result in improved spending by Canadians. However, many product categories in health and wellness are reaching maturity such as cereals and high fibre bread as well as pro/pre biotic yoghurt. Additionally, strict regulations with respect to fortified/functional products and health claims will continue to inhibit product development and marketing efforts. Opportunities exist in developing products that Canadians see as more natural and wholesome, with closer attention to ingredients and consumer education about benefits, provided the benefits can be demonstrated clearly and supported by research.

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