Page 2: A changing market place
Changes in society over the last decade have greatly affected the way we live. As the pace of life seems to get quicker and quicker, people have less time to prepare meals. There has been a rise in snacking or, as it is known in the food trade, grazing, with consumers choosing products which are convenient, portable and cheap. Fewer children are choosing school meals in the middle of the day and many adults are simply too busy to take a proper lunch break. More and more people are preferring to have a light snack at lunch time and a more substantial meal in the evening, giving rise to what has been called a lunch box culture. Added to this has been the rise in real incomes and independence for young people, a crucial group of consumers in the snack market, who now have far more of a say in what they eat and when.
A desire for healthy eating
At the same time, there have been growing concerns about the environment and the food chain. Consumers have become far more interested in how food is produced and exactly what it contains. In the late 1980s, there was growing public concern about preservatives and additives in food which were seen to be at best, unnecessary and at worst, harmful to health. This resulted in a move towards, or what was perceived by some to be a return to, more natural products.
Coupled with this was the media driven preoccupation with outward beauty, aimed predominantly at the female population. There was a general desire to eat healthily (consume less fat), lose weight and look good. The nutritional value and calorific content of food therefore became of much greater interest and consumers were even prepared to compromise on taste if they believed that the product contained fewer calories. Initially, however, low fat products tended not to taste as good as their full fat counterparts and consumers tended to diet and then binge - the yo-yo diet.
Although the snack market was marginally affected by the recession of the early 1990s, it quickly returned to high levels of growth with the adverse economic conditions being outweighed by the positive social effects. This suggested that demand for snacks was not particularly responsive to changes in income. The market for snack products continued to boom throughout the 1990s, with increasing numbers of people spending more money on these types of food. Since the numbers in the two key snacking age categories, children between 5 and 14 and adults aged 35 plus, are projected to rise by the year 2001, the demand for snacks is likely to continue to grow.
Political changes can also play a part in the snack market. The late 1980s saw the launch of a number of Government initiatives to encourage changes in the British diet. The advice was centred on the reduction of fat in the diet as this could have beneficial effects on the level of coronary heart disease. The Government set out clear targets and guidelines on how these might be achieved. Regulations on the description of ingredients on packaging were introduced, including the percentages of fat and saturated fats. Confusing and misleading claims were outlawed and this has continued through to the present day. Most recently, the ‘Health of the Nation’ initiative was launched, designed to make people more aware of the effect of lifestyle on health through a programme of education.
Having identified these changes affecting the snack market and the opportunities they afforded, Golden Wonder launched Golden Lights in 1991.