CHICAGO — Among five macro categories, “better-for-you” and “dietary restriction” labeling claims are sales leaders, according to a market analysis conducted by Symphony Consulting, a division of the SymphonyIRI Group. Rounding out the top five in sales were “condition specific,” “natural” and “energy” claims.

“As Americans age, they are turning increasingly to healthier foods as part of a more comprehensive approach to managing their wellness,” said Krishnakumar (KK) Davey, managing director of Symphony Consulting. “In addition, recent government actions, such as New York City’s ban on trans-fats in restaurant cooking and Los Angeles’ ‘meatless Mondays’ campaign, continue to elevate consumers’ interest in health claims. Further, food science advances are enabling manufacturers to develop foods and beverages with healthier attributes.”

While better-for-you and dietary restriction claims are category sales leaders, energy claims are the fastest growing category in terms of sales. The energy claim traditionally has centered on energy drinks, but today, shoppers also are seeking out sustained energy benefits through better diets to an increasing degree.

Symphony Consulting reviewed demographic differences in the demand for products with health claims. Older consumer groups increasingly are attracted to health claims within the food and beverage industry. During 2012 year-to-date, older Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1955, contributed to 24% of total claim sales growth, although they account for 20% of dollar sales. Generation X and Generation Y consumers also represent an opportunity for manufacturers. The groups provided 23% and 27% total claim sales growth, while accounting for 20% and 25% of dollar sales, respectively.

In addition to overall health claim sales, the report looked at health claim sales activity across five food and beverage categories, including snacks, breakfast foods, refrigerated and frozen cooking ingredients, ready-to-eat meals, and beverages. Within snacks, better-for-you and dietary restriction are the leading claims that drive sales, with better-for-you providing 37% of snack claim sales and dietary restriction providing 35%.

As with snacks, the two leading claims driving sales within cooking ingredients are better-for-you and dietary restriction. The claims account for 36% and 31% of claim sales, respectively. The report predicted the cooking ingredients category is likely to experience growth in the better-for-you and condition-specific claims segments.

“While manufacturers have developed foods and beverages with healthier attributes, perhaps the biggest obstacle they now face is consumer awareness,” said Jamil Satchu, partner, Symphony Consulting. “At best, consumers lack understanding, and given the complexity of some health claims, that’s understandable. At worst, they are skeptical of many health claims, particularly newer ones. But, time and information can overcome this obstacle. Educating consumers about such claims as prebiotic and gluten-free will be critical to manufacturers’ and retailers’ success in this area.”

The full report from Symphony Consulting may be accessed by