The main factors driving a growth in health and wellness in foods are an ageing population, rising obesity rates, nutrient deficiency and consumer demand, according to Lance Friedmann, Kraft's senior vice president of global health and wellness and new category development. "We view health and wellness as a broad societal issue. Our response is multifaceted, and we're making good progress on the business side as well as in the field of social responsibility," he said, adding that there is more opportunity and work ahead. Kraft Foods, one of the world's largest food and beverage companies with annual revenues of more than $34bn, says it takes a four-pronged approach to health and wellness: product nutrition; consumer information; marketing practices; and advocacy and dialogue. In terms of product nutrition, Friedmann said that improving the nutritional profile of the company's portfolio has the double benefit of improving what consumers eat while at the same time also driving sales. Kraft's 'better-for-you' products are identified by a Sensible Solution flag, which was launched in 2005 to help consumers easily identify healthier products. The program is based on Kraft's own nutrition criteria, which set limits on calories, fat, sodium and sugar. In addition, products carrying the mark can provide "nutritionally meaningful" levels of protein, calcium, fiber or whole grains. "We now have over 500 products in the US that meet the Sensible Solution standards. These account for over one third of our US sales, and are growing two to three times faster than the rest of our products," said Friedmann. "They are good for people, good for nutrition and good for our business." A second priority set by the company is consumer information, designed to help consumers make more informed choices. "In 99 percent of the countries where we sell our products we provide nutritional information even when we are not required to," said Friedmann. In addition, Kraft teams up with retailers to provide in-store nutrition information, thereby "hitting people right at the important moment when they are making the decision of what to buy". A third health and wellness focus held by the company is its marketing strategy, which involves certain advertising restrictions especially to children. The firm has a long-standing policy of not advertising to children under six, and it also recently announced that only products that meet its Sensible Solution criteria will be advertised to kids under 12. In addition, Kraft has eliminated product advertising in schools, and has established nutrition guidelines for products sold in school vending machines. "We hoped these policies would stimulate innovation in our company, and they've done just that," said Friedmann. "We've also learnt a lot about how to talk to kids about nutrition. They don't care if you talk about it directly. You need to talk to them about things they want, like playing or activities or basketball. Then you can work in a strong health and wellness message." Finally, Kraft focuses on advocacy and dialogue as a fourth health and wellness strategy. Friedmann said the company achieves this through the use of its better-for-you symbols, but added that Kraft is not the only firm that does this, and stressed the importance of ensuring that a plethora of nutrition symbols do not ultimately have the effect of confusing consumers more than helping them. Friedmann was addressing attendees at the recent IFT food expo in Chicago, where he participated in the session Senior Executives Cut the Fat on Industry's Approach to Health and Wellness Foods, together with executives from General Mills, Nestle, and Campbell. To read the FoodNavigator-USA.com article on General Mills, click here. To read the article on Nestle, click here. To read the article on Campbell, click here.