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Health, GF & low-carb – growing trends in the chilled aisle

The FMCG industry has been making conscious efforts to address the health concerns faced by consumers while shopping in the chilled aisle.

According to IRI, healthier alternatives to everyday products are in strong growth as an increasing number of Australians are gravitating towards products catering to their specific and unique health needs.

With price being a compromise most shoppers have to make while deciding between healthy choices, shoppers are now selecting no-name brands as an acceptable replacement for more expensive branded products. Private label is gaining momentum in this health trend by offering similar products at a comparatively lower price point.

Trends in the chilled aisle

As expected the stock-piling period generated strong growth for categories within Chilled consisting of Cheese, Table Spreads, Milk, Eggs, Pasta & Sauces, Cream, Ready Meals vs pre-Covid-19 months; Pasta & Sauces delivered 44-per-cent higher growth versus the rest of the categories. This resulted from a surge in consumers now cooking more from scratch as well as driven by unavailability of ambient categories on shelf.


Gluten free (GF) products, although catering to consumers with coeliac disease, is often perceived as a “healthier” option for shoppers looking to make the switch. According to Medical Journal of Australia, 1 in 4 Australians actively avoid gluten in their diets due to its perceived health benefits.

Facilitated by shifts into at-home cooking, Gluten Free Pasta is growing at 25 per cent ahead of the total category, popular among older demographics within IRI’s shopper panel. Shoppers who were traditionally purchasing non-GF Pasta are exploring the options within the category sharing 64 per cent of their spend with GF references, suggesting these shoppers are aligning their habits with the trends in market.

Visual and verbal cues on packaging has proven to be key driver for the surge in GF products. One such brand is Latina wherein the “Gluten Free” claim has proven to delivered a purchase preference and as such is currently leading the GF Pasta segment.

Low carb

With a quest for slimmer waistline, consumers are often driven towards low-carb meals. Low-carb diets are often included in weight loss plans & ‘keto diets’ suggested by nutritionists (Intake of 20-60g carbs). But is it a growing trend or a fad?

When we peek inside the Chilled fridge, Ready meals are a standout category. A variety of options are now available for shoppers who are willing to pay a premium without having to compromise on taste and are searching from meals high in protein and nutrition. Brands are consciously recognising the known stigma around “Weight loss” claims on packs are shifting their focus on functional benefits. YouFoodz & MyMuscleChef, famously aimed at portion control meals are renaming their range as “Clean” and highlighting “High Protein” on packs.


As consumers are making efforts to stay healthy while staying indoors, we are seeing brands being observant and sensitive towards people’s health needs. These customers are likely to pay a premium, opening up more opportunities for manufacturers to become more committed to modify their offerings, keeping in mind the ever-changing health landscape of FMCG.

Adding “healthier” options through range extensions is going to be beneficial to brands looking to expand their audiences into shoppers who choose a healthy lifestyle and focus on overall wellbeing. As this trend is moving in a positive direction, it is highly likely to have a prolonged effect on grocery shopping.

  • The author, Sheena Rochiramani, is an associate consultant at IRI.
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