Unilever's recent purchase of Slim-Fast and Ben & Jerry's on the same day triggered substantial notice (and guffaws) for its Jack Sprat-like marriage of deprivation and indulgence. Beneath the surface of this unlikely pairing, however, is a common thread that has largely escaped notice: both acquired companies built substantial consumer franchises by addressing key consumer anxieties: health (Slim-Fast) and ethical business practices (Ben & Jerry's)."Consumers are turning to foods, beverages, and the companies that produce them for more than just taste, fuel, and convenience," said Tracy Carlson, Director of Strategic Marketing for PROMAR International. "They are expressing broader aspirations and concerns about health, safety, and the world at large that astute small and mid-sized companies are addressing successfully. The major food companies have begun to pay attention, as they should be, since these low-flying opportunities can provide growth in a sluggish market."PROMAR International has just completed a major study entitled "The Concerned Consumer in the United States: Finding opportunities in anxiety." This study focuses on five issues that provide both risks and opportunities for the food industry: genetic modification, vegetarianism, organic/natural foods, functional foods, and ethical business practices."Kraft Foods didn't buy Boca Burger to tap into the strict vegetarian market, because that's a tiny niche best left to the purists. They saw a broader opportunity," says Carlson. "Similarly, major food companies are confronting the GMO challenge not because of a handful of activists, but because they're worried about soccer moms -- or should be."Details on the study including the table of contents and sample pages can be viewed at: