No MSG now tops $1 billion -The Lempert Report

The Lempert Report
January 14, 2009

The Lempert Report Food News: Marketing, analysis, issues & trends and the impact on food and retail environments, specifically for the B2B food world with reporting and commentary on consumer and retailing trends by Phil Lempert. Phil can predict the future —and then help businesses and consumers understand it. For more than 25 years, Lempert, an expert analyst on consumer behavior, marketing trends, new products and the changing retail landscape, has identified and explained impending trends to consumers and some of the most prestigious companies worldwide. Known as The Supermarket Guru®,, Lempert is a distinguished author and speaker who alerts customers and business leaders to impending corporate and consumer trends, and empowers them to make educated purchasing and marketing decisions. To see more of The Lempert Report visit: No-MSG a $1 billion opportunity Many people associate monosodium glutamate (MSG) with Chinese restaurants, where diners frequently ask that none be put in their foods. Relatively few know that food and beverage makers use MSG in a wide array of foods, since it is part of other ingredients whose names give no hint of its presence. To name a few: calcium caseinate, dry milk powder, hydrolyzed soy protein, and yeast nutrient. The FDA does not require MSG to appear on food labels, even though over the past half-century, research has suggested the flavor enhancer could add to health risks ranging from blindness to migraines, nausea, joint pain, sleep disorders, heart irregularities and more. Its widespread presence in processed foods surprises millions who can ill afford to ingest it because it could potentially worsen their existing conditions. By claiming no-MSG on package labels in numerous categories, food processors have created a $1 billion-plus niche and helped consumers make wiser product selections for their individual circumstances. According to Nielsen LabelTrends data, sales of no-MSG products have risen in each of the past four years, over the past 12 months; a 9.0% increase to $1.2 billion in U.S. food, drug and mass merchandiser stores (excluding Walmart). Activity in no-MSG product labeling is consistently strong. There are 3,440 such active UPCs these included 389 new products introduced during the last year, approximately the same number as introduced each year of the past four. There are 5 categories in which no-MSG product sales exceeded $100 million in this past year. Ready-to-serve prepared foods, soup, packaged meat, frozen prepared foods, and ironically enough, spices/seasonings/extracts. It is January and that means diets! The gift no one can give, that would surely top many Christmas wish lists, is the ability to lose weight without working at it. So instead, people are heading to their supermarkets and drug chains to buy hope in a bottle; in the form of appetite suppressants and diet aids, and that is despite the loose science around them, and serious documented health risks that have stained the weight loss business in the past. According to Nielsen, in the 52 weeks ended November 29, 2008, these shoppers willingly paid more than $400 million on these products in U.S. food, drug and mass merchandiser stores (excluding Walmart). Where is the money going? Appetite suppressants is number one At $142.1 million, up 11.9% in dollars and almost 7 percent in volume. However, in previous years, the increases ranged from 50 to 175%. The economy may have had a lot to do with the growth slowdown. Sales of appetite suppressants were bounding ahead in excess of 200% in four-week periods through May of 2008, and then they hit a wall. Since June, every four-week period posted a downturn over the same year-ago period. Consumption of appetite suppressants are evenly dispersed among ten different BehaviorStage households identified by Spectra, the highest indexes were: established couples with no children in cosmopolitan centers (147 index), small-scale families in comfortable country environments (143), empty nesters in affluent suburban spreads (141), and younger bustling families in cosmopolitan centers (132), In the big picture, since 2004, the diet aids-complete nutritional segment has lost more than $100 million in dollar sales, while the appetite suppressants segment has gained nearly $130 million. The story is not so much about growth in weight-loss expenditures as it is about a shift in the products people are buying. To reach me directly, please email me at For information on New Products, visit our weekly videocast: