Investing In A Healthier World

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BERLIN – The world is on a mission to live more healthfully. Governments around the world are promoting better nutrition and healthier lifestyles to cut growing costs for health care, lost productivity and social programs. And as more and more individuals learn about the benefits of better living, they are seeking out the foods and supplements needed for a balanced and healthy diet.

For the companies that market products and services for healthy lifestyles, this trend spells opportunity. People who want to help themselves live more fulfilling lives rely on these companies to help them get fit.

“In developed countries, baby boomers are leading the way. They’re eating better and exercising more than ever to achieve a healthier lifestyle,” said Jose Rasco, a Vice President and Investment Strategist with the Merrill Lynch Investment Strategy Group. “They’re spending their dollars to not only look better, but also to feel better overall.”

Just as it is important for investors to build well-diversified portfolios to offset risk, it’s best to look for opportunities among those companies that market a more holistic approach to health. It’s also important to look for companies that have an established track record marketing healthy lifestyle products.

Take, for instance, Kellogg’s and General Mills, both of which have recently reported higher earnings, based largely on the strength in sales of their nutrition bars and yogurt products. These companies, along with others like Fresh Del Monte Produce, enjoy several advantages over many of their peers. They already market some inherently healthy products. What’s more, some of their most responsive markets segments — namely the youngest consumers and the oldest ones — are growing.

With the growing global shift to healthier food and lifestyles, companies providing these products look appealing to investors.

“This is a great story, but it’s only the beginning,” says Rasco.

Rasco cautions not to expect too much right away and advises investors interested in the food industry to be prepared to be in it for the long term.

(The writer is a Merrill Lynch Senior Financial Advisor. She can be reached at 410-213-9084.)

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