North American food and drink consumers will slow their spending on premium food and drinks, an analysts meeting is to hear today, but demand for health products will continue unabated.

Research group Frost & Sullivan will tell analysts at its 2009 Quarterly Analyst Briefing Presentation on the North American food & beverage market today (26 February) that in 2008, the ailing economy has adversely impacted most industries, including the food & beverage (F&B) industry.

"In addition to the economic slowdown, supply chain issues, such as ingredient availability and vendor pricing, have continued to put pressure on F&B manufacturer margins. From the farmer's field to the consumer's fork, the food & beverage industry is facing a wide set of challenges, and industry reaction will transform the future of this industry," Frost & Sullivan said.

"Growth in speciality food and beverage categories may be constrained, as the average consumer's food budget shrinks," said food industry research analyst Christopher Shanahan.

"The economic slowdown is expected to temporarily constrain consumer spending on food and beverages that employ premium pricing strategies.

"However, the demand for products with enhanced health and wellness benefits is expected to remain in place. Consumers are going to maintain their health and wellness goals by clipping more coupons and choosing more store or private label brand alternatives."