Has Healthy Eating Hit a Tipping Point?

Last week Sprouts Market ($SFM), a smaller competitor of Whole Foods ($WFM), made a comment that stood out to me on its conference call.  The company said that middle income consumers are adopting healthier eating habits faster than any other segment:

Studies today show that the most rapidly growing segment of Americans adopting healthier eating habits is primarily middle income consumers. For years, price and availability have long been viewed key barriers to attracting this middle income shopper”

If this is accurate, it may be an indication that the healthy eating trend has “crossed the chasm” to mass market adoption.  The healthy eating trend has been brewing for a long time, but we may be at a point where awareness, availability and price have converged to a tipping point.

The “tipping point” theory could be an explanation for why we are finally starting to see negative comps at a company like McDonalds.  Even though the healthy eating movement has grown rapidly for years, it may have been too niche up to this point to have a material impact on a behemoth like $MCD’s numbers.  MCD grew US guest count all throughout the recession.  In 2013 and so far this year though, guest count has been declining.  If this is indeed an inflection point, it could be the start of more to come.

McDonalds Guest Count Growth