Big Food Companies Evolve as American Taste Buds Change

There was a time when having a big name in food was everything: Kraft, Campbell’s, McDonald’s.

Now, it seems the American consumer has moved onto greener pastures … literally.

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In the past 10 years, taste buds in the U.S. have shifted and people have begun placing a higher value on clean, natural eating.

Words like preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, genetically modified and growth hormones now cause many American shoppers to raise and eyebrow, and instead reach for foods that proclaim words like organic, natural and pesticide-free.

In fact, since 2009 the top 25 U.S. food and beverage companies have lost an equivalent of $18 billion in the market, according to an analysis by Moscow. It’s a shift that has many big food companies scrambling to make changes to their products.

For example, Wendy’s Co. spent the last three years on a search involving more than 30 growers in order to procure enough blackberries for one new salad to add its menu next summer.

McDonald’s Corp. has begun advertising that its Egg McMuffins are made with freshly cracked eggs and it has started testing breakfast bowls and salads made with kale.

The change isn’t limited to fast food, though. General Mills bought organic pasta, meals and snacks company Annie’s Homegrown last year, and Campbell’s launched an organic soup line in February as well as acquired an organic baby food company last year.

Many of these changes in the market come from a change the target demographic. By 2020, millenials over the age of 25 are expected to make up about 19% of the U.S. population, a significant rise from 2010 when they made up about 5% of this population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Studies have shown the millennial generation consistently prefers locally grown, healthy foods. At the same time, baby boomers have become more discriminating about their diet, opting for foods that increase brain, health and physical activity.

Both trends have now come together changing the demands and expectations of the typical American eater.

Consumers in general ranked the addition of more produce as the most important dietary change they were making last year, according to a survey of more than 1,000 people by consulting firm AlixPartners LLP. This change was ranked more important than consuming less sugar, salt or fat.

As big food companies battle for their place in the market once again, they are facing two great obstacles: consumer perception and supply chain issues.

For many consumers, it doesn’t matter if General Mills converts most of its products to organic; they are skeptical of larger food providers. Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison said this is a huge hurdle for companies like hers in her presentation earlier this year at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York meeting in New York City.

“There is a mounting distrust of so-called ‘big food,’ the large food companies and legacy brands on which millions of consumers have relied on for so long,” she said.

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But even if perceptions changed, big packaged food companies would still have to overcome a larger problem: access to ingredients. Just as Wendy’s Co. discovered in its search for blackberries to add one salad to its menu, other big food companies have found there just may not be enough organic ingredients to go around.

When Campbell’s set out to procure enough ingredients for its line of organic soups, the company had to secure long-term contracts so as not to jeopardize the product in the future. It’s a big commitment for some farmers, as it means dedicating their entire crop only to one company.

As American priorities and taste buds evolve, big companies will continue to expand their product to accommodate a new demographic of eaters.

10 Reasons You’re Always Tired You May Not Realize

When it comes to being tired and worn down, lack of sleep isn’t always the culprit. There can be a lot of other factors contributing to your feeling of fatigue.

Below are 10 reasons you may be feeling tired that you may not realize:

1. Skipping exercise – It may seem counterintuitive, but those weekly workouts actually give you more energy, not less.

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2. Not enough H2O – Being dehydrated even slightly slows your body down, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids at all times.

3. You’re a worrywart – A little worry keeps you safe, but consistent anxiety about everyday events can be mentally exhausting. Try to relax and take deep breaths.

4. Nixing breakfast – During sleep, the body burns the food from the night before. Eating in the morning kick-starts the metabolism and gets the body moving.

5. Eating junk – Foods packed with sugar and simple carbs cause spikes in blood sugar followed by sharp drops. The up and down through takes a toll on energy levels.

6. Can’t say ‘no’ – Many people over-commit themselves to activities in order to please those around them. Practice telling people you just don’t have time.

7. Having a nightcap – Wine or beer before bed sounds like a good way to unwind but the sugar in alcohol can upset the sleep cycle or awaken you during the night.

8. Emailing in bed – The bright light on a tablet or smartphone can upset the body’s natural circadian rhythm by suppressing melatonin and delaying sleep.

9. Too much coffee – Starting the day with a jolt of java is no big deal but consuming caffeine late in the day can have a major effect on your sleep later.

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10. Burning Midnight Oil – Staying up late on Saturday leads to sleeping in late Sunday and then a sleep-deprived Monday. Instead, try getting up early on Sunday and powering up in the afternoon with a quick 20-minute nap.

For more reasons you’re always feeling tired, read the article on this information was taken from.

5 Ways to Improve Blood Pressure This Month

It’s a serious problem millions of Americans – 67 million, to be exact — are facing: high blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the force of blood on the walls of blood vessels as it flows through them. High blood pressure makes a person’s heart work harder and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

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Many people have high blood pressure, but do not experience symptoms. That is why it is sometimes called the silent killer.

This month, for National Blood Pressure Awareness Month, see your doctor about your current blood pressure level. You can also try these five methods of lowering your blood pressure naturally:

Power Up with Power Walks – Exercise helps the heart use oxygen more efficiently, so it doesn’t work as hard to pump blood.

Just Breathe – Slow breathing and meditation decrease stress hormones, which can raise blood pressure. Integrate five minutes of relaxation twice per day into your routine for the best results.

Pick Potassium – Load up on potassium-rich foods, like sweet potatoes, tomatoes, orange juice and bananas to help lower your blood pressure. Reaching about 2,000 to 4,000 mg per day is recommended by doctors.

Smarten Up About Salt – Sodium, or salt, takes a major toll on blood pressure, but it doesn’t just come from that pesky salt shaker. A typical American diet includes a lot processed foods, packed with sodium. Be aware of your intake when making diet decisions.

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Work (a bit) less – Working more than 41 hours per week raises the risk of hypertension by 15%, according to research. It can be tough to leave the office early, but it’s important for your health to have time to exercise and cook a healthy meal.

For more information on how to lower blood pressure naturally, read the article on the tips above were taken from.

7 Foods That Will Have You Feeling Good

When it comes to health, there’s nothing more important than diet. The right foods can help fight colds, allergies or even prevent memory loss. Check out these seven tasty items that will help your body stay in tip-top shape.

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Fish –

Salmon, mackerel, tuna and other fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-healthy and help improve brain function.

Nuts and seeds –

Chock-full of vitamin E, sunflower seeds, almonds and peanuts help reduce allergic response to help clear up itchy eyes and stuffy noses.

Fermented foods –

Boost your immune system with foods like yogurt, kimchi, miso and tempeh, which all contain beneficial bacteria, or probiotics.

Avocado –

Rich in vitamin E and the antioxidant powerhouse vitamin C, avocados are just generally healthy and are also associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Berries –

Recent research shows berries may help fight age-related cognitive decline and prevent immune cells from releasing histamines that cause allergy symptoms.

Whole grains –

Swapping white rice and pasts for their whole-wheat counterparts helps reduce acid reflux and heartburn because of all of the insoluble-fiber that get things moving in the body.

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Leafy vegetables –

Kale and spinach are superfoods rich in vitamin A, which keeps germs out of the body keeping you from getting sick, and folate, which protects your brain.

Read more on about the foods that will make you feel better and improve your brain.

5 Steps For Managing Staff as Adults, Not Children

For many managers, overseeing a staff can sometimes feel more like being a parent than an overseer and adviser of adults.

Because of this dysfunctional work relationship, many businesses are unable to realize their full potential as creativity and productivity suffer.

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Parent-type managers make too many decisions for those who work for them. In turn, employees who operate in the child position ask permission for almost any action, especially those that could be controversial or break away from the status quo.

You can break this cycle at your company by taking these steps:

1. Get real with yourself – Determine if psychologically you’re operating as a parent by asking yourself how often your employees ask you to make decisions for them, if you’re constantly trying to change your employee’s behavior or how difficult it is to get straight answers from your staff.

2. Stop calling the shots – Break the pattern of making all the decisions by instead asking your employee what he or she thinks. It will be difficult at first, but eventually staffers will become more confident and stop coming to you.

3. Ask for needs – There are always ways to increase your employee’s productivity and skills. Ask your staff what they would need in order to perform their job better.

4. Go macro – Good managers oversee projects on a macro-level, keeping an eye on the overall goals and objectives. Parents are constantly supervising individual tasks. Treat your employees like adults and let them figure out how to achieve their job goals on their own.

5. Risk Failure – If you’re a control freak when you’re managing, you’re probably acting more as a parent. Adults have to be willing to accept the possibility of failure and then be able to move on to the next project with more knowledge from the last.

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 For more information on managing employees, read the article by K. Palmer Hartl this post summarizes.