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Protein and Smaller Portions: Weight-loss Drugs Redefining Consumer Food Demands

flat lay photography of cooked food

Ozempic and other GLP-1 weight-loss drugs have increased in popularity over the past year, and it’s not just due to diabetics. GLP-1 drugs have become, in essence, a miracle weight-loss pill according to Adam Melonas, CEO of Chew Innovation, because they curb one’s desire to eat.

New research, conducted by food innovation firm Mattson, revealed that GLP-1 users have reported specific food preferences, including more protein and smaller portions. With so many consumers jumping on the Ozempic bandwagon, The Food Institute sought to explore changing consumer behaviors and what the food industry can do to adapt.

How have GLP-1 drugs impacted eating? 

Melonas said users have reported a decreased desire for high-calorie, sugary and fatty foods and are more mindful of their eating habits. According to a recent article by AFN, Mattson’s panel showed that anti-obesity medicine (AOM) users reported a desire for smaller portion sizes, products that will help with hydration, products that will increase their protein intake and foods that soothe nausea and gastric discomfort.

How will this impact F&B? 

“From the perspective of a food manufacturer, this shift represents an opportunity,” said Valentin Chelnokov, CEO of Zina’s Fine Foods.

Chelnokov doesn’t expect consumers to reduce the amount that’s spent on food but rather will opt for smaller portions of higher-quality products. And he feels that is a critical distinction.

“Consumers will focus more on the flavor, preparation methods, the origins of ingredients, and the environmental impact of their choices rather than merely seeking to satiate hunger – something that hasn’t happened ever before en masse.”

The F&B landscape appears poised for significant change.

Manufacturers and restaurants that have traditionally prioritized low-cost mass production over health and quality may find themselves needing to re-evaluate and modify their business models to adapt to new consumer behaviors.

What can be done to adapt? 

Melonas has numerous suggestions for manufacturers and restaurants in the AOM era:

  • Develop low-calorie, nutrient-dense menu items: Offer meals and snacks high in protein, fiber, and essential nutrients while low in calories.
  • Partner with healthcare providers and weight loss programs: This can include creating meal plans, or featuring a preferred dining option for program participants.
  • Offer customizable portion sizes: Customers can choose their desired portions, such as half-portions or small plates. This enables individuals to control their calorie intake better while enjoying their favorite dishes.
  • Innovate with functional ingredients: Incorporate ingredients that promote satiety, such as high-fiber vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, into menu items or packaged foods.

Ultimately, many F&B companies will need to invest in fundamental R&D and continuously innovate products to meet customers’ evolving preferences. That, in many cases, will include developing new formulas with value-added ingredients – a tried and true strategy for the rapid evolution of consumer demands.


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