What Does ‘Better for Me’ Mean to You?

Posted May 2, 2023 by Alyssa Stahr

Out of all of the webinars, in-person keynotes and interviews I’ve conducted in the past several years regarding clean label listings, functionality and better-for-you ingredients, one thing has always stuck out to me. The definition of what is good for me is moveable, changeable and 100% personal. 

The FDA has been redefining what “healthy” means at the governmental level in recent years. “Healthy” claims on food labels requires manufacturers to meet “specific nutrient-related criteria to use the nutrient content claim. But, the claim is voluntary for a reason. It’s really difficult to put into — or in this case on — a box. What is considered healthy can vary from person to person and varies based on age, gender, genetics, lifestyle and a myriad of other factors.

Food Business News and Sosland Publishing recently hosted the FoodEntrepreneur Experience, a webinar that showcased how today’s consumer really wants it all in terms of better for me, better for my planet food choices. Emerging brands are tapping into burgeoning demand for food with functional benefits. Herbs, botanicals, mushrooms and more promise better sleep, better energy and even better moods depending on the time day one partakes in one such food or beverage. 

What else are consumers looking for in terms of functionality?

Beverages as Medicine

We are what we eat, but we are what we drink, too. More than ever, consumers are looking to beverages to boost and support key health claims. Top performing healthy focuses included digestive health; cardiovascular health; and cognitive health. Even soda had growth in digestive and cognitive categories.

Better-for-You Buzzwords

Consumer preferences are continually changing, and today’s shopper is values-oriented. Natural and organic, wellness, clean, sustainability and better-for-you are just a few key words that are driving consumers to particular brand purchases. Even values-oriented consumers are turning to the once indulgent-only snack category for health. In fact, this demographic is 1.5 times more likely to look at ingredients labels on their snack products.


No added sugar, sugar reduction and all-natural sweeteners are one of the hottest functional/better-for-you topics in the industry. Honey, allulose, stevia and monk fruit are a few of the most trending sweeteners of late, but as everything else in the food and beverage industry, I expect to see more sugar alcohols and controversial sweeteners trying to make their mark. However, consumers are savvier than ever, and will indeed do their homework on which sweeteners are indeed better for them in terms of health and functionality. (We’re sweet on honey.)

The second half of 2023 and beyond is poised to be some of the most personal, disruptive times in the food and beverage industry. I can’t wait to see what new products are showcased at Sweets & Snacks, Summer Fancy Food Show and beyond. Which better-for-you, functional products will rise above with consumers? 

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