The hype around appetite suppressants like Ozempic may lead to a drop in sales of high-calorie foods. Walmart is sounding the alarm, food manufacturers are aware of the risk.
Huge potential, huge impact?
Consumers taking the popular appetite suppressant Ozempic are generally buying less at Walmart shops, its US CEO John Furner told Bloomberg last week. They buy both fewer items and fewer calories, the retailer noticed when comparing the buying behaviour of shoppers who show up at Walmart pharmacies with a prescription for the weight-loss drug with the spending of similar shoppers who do not use the drug.
That news led investors and stock market analysts to worry about the major producers of high-calorie foods and snacks. Mondelez (biscuits and chocolate) and PepsiCo (soft drinks and snacks), among others, already saw their share price fall. According to PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta, the effect so far is “negligible”, although the company does see that the trend towards healthier eating is causing customers to buy smaller packs and consume less sugar and salt.
Appetite suppressants are only at the beginning of their breakthrough. The growth potential is huge, as fifty million Europeans and seventy million Americans are obese. By 2035, 7 % of the global population could use this medication. The impact on supermarkets would be relatively limited – after all, they sell enough healthy alternatives. However, in addition to junk food manufacturers, fashion brands focusing on large sizes, for example, could also be impacted over time.