Many food companies resolve to make the new year healthier 


The world's largest food makers are trying to help you keep that New Year's resolution to eat healthier, and your success is tied to theirs.

In the latest sign that snack and convenience food manufacturers are working harder to offer better products, Nestlé has named a former health care executive as CEO. Ulf Mark Schneider took the reins in what is expected to be a transformation of the chocolate company turned global food empire.

Schneider comes from the German health care giant Fresnius, which does everything from selling health food to making medical equipment to running hospitals. Managing a wide-ranging conglomerate is good preparation for Nestlé, which sells bottled water, coffee, frozen dinners and - wait for it - health food.

In fact, health and wellness is the fastest growing segment of Nestlé's business, while sales of Stouffer's dinners and KitKat bars remain sluggish.

Nestlé's board is banking on Schneider moving the firm away from these fading brands and into more profitable businesses.

Nestlé is not the only food company watching the popularity of its most-prized products fade. 

PepsiCo, General Mills, Kraft Heinz and many others have felt the backlash against high-calorie brands loaded with corn syrup, sugar and trans-fats. They are trying to keep up with the times.

General Mills has promised to eliminate artificial flavors from breakfast cereals by 2017, joining other industry leaders like Kraft Foods. PepsiCo has a program to offer dozens of new healthy products by 2025.

These companies, though, are caught in a similar dilemma as the auto industry. 

When it comes to cars, Americans say they want greater fuel efficiency, but they end up buying SUVs. They also say they want to eat better, but when they reach for a snack, they buy chips and a soda.

Downward goal

Pepsi set a goal in 2010 of tripling revenue from healthier food by 2020 to $30 billion. That goal has since been revised downward to having the sales growth of its nutritious products outpace the rest of its portfolio by 2025.

This is where the consumers' New Year's resolution comes in.

These corporations can see sales growth slowing for their unhealthy products, and they are offering alternatives. 

Up to us

But it's up to us to buy those alternatives, not just for our health, but for their revenue growth.

Nestlé's new CEO is relying on you to do your part.


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