It was not that long ago that star investor Jim Rogers used to slip the people he was talking to one of those little sugar packets just like the ones served at all cafes for your coffee. That is because he wanted to draw attention to the immense investment potential of commodities, especially “soft commodities”. This is just the sort of commodity that everyone needs. He was proven to be correct. It is well known, however, after the boom that the time to invest is before the boom. So where could the next major buzz be, the new and upcoming zeitgeist investment? Right at the point where pleasure and health meet.

But let’s start at the beginning: sugar is sweet and therefore popular. Depending on the amount consumed, however, sugar is also unhealthy. Despite this, the World Health Organization claims that a considerable amount of it is consumed without our even being aware of it. A tablespoon of ketchup, for example, contains about a teaspoon of sugar, which in turn contributes to obesity. In the United States, two-thirds of adults and one out of every three children are overweight or obese. It costs the health system $190 billion just trying to cope with the resulting diseases. Stevia, on the other hand, does not cause these negative effects. So, it is hardly surprising if the food industry starts licking its lips at this sweet alternative to traditional sugar.

Not just a passing fad

Stevia is obtained from a South American plant and has already developed a sizable market. Between 2008 and 2012, sales figures rose by 400 percent, which was due, among other things, to large conglomerates such as Coca-Cola or Danone relying on Stevia. Subsequently, it was approved by the European Food Safety Authority in 2011. In 2014, the global market value of Stevia was around $336 million, and it is thought it will reach $578 million by the end of 2017. It would not necessarily be a zeitgeist investment, however, to rely solely on Stevia. Rather, only those types of assets and investments that can be established on the slightest hint of a change, often difficult to perceive, can be deemed zeitgeist investments. Let us take the example of increased health awareness. This is reflected, in turn, by greater nutritional awareness as well as the realization that the movement is part of a healthy life. Subsequently, the shift in demand to issues, such as healthy nutrition, increased fitness and the associated service providers, should be catered to. For example, away from sugar, toward the sugar substitute Stevia. Or even just toward services such as the delivery of healthy meals. The more people work from home, the greater the corresponding demand is, precisely because of the change in basic attitude. Weight watchers offers such a program, as does their competitor, NutriSystem.

Everyone knows that you cannot buy health, but you can buy the things and services that allow you to be healthy. They are becoming part of zeitgeist investment, because they are likely to be at the beginning of a prolonged upward trend as a result of a general change in attitudes, and because of the increasing level of global purchasing power.

Valerie Plagnol
Valerie Plagnol

Compared to other artificial sweeteners, Stevia is a gift of nature for diabetic and obese people, because it passes through the digestive system without being absorbed. But of course, if big producers are betting on it, there are still two major obstacles to overcome: one, the price is actually higher, and the second – and I can testify for that – is that really Stevia has to sweeten its taste.

werthstein giles keating thumbnail
Giles Keating

These are actually not cheap companies. But we do not invest here because of a low valuation, but because of the high growth rates. You have to weigh the pros and cons. Occasionally, low-rated shares in companies with good growth prospects are obtained. But you usually have to pay for good growth opportunities. And this is the case here.

Zeitgeist allocation

Published on 26.05.2017

Description Instrument ISIN TER Allocation
Planet Fitness Inc Stock US72703H1014 0% 9,00%
Basic-Fit NV Stock NL0011872650 0% 8,50%
Vail Resorts Inc Stock US91879Q1094 0% 8,50%
Herbalife Ltd Stock KYG4412G1010 0% 9,50%
Usana Health Sciences Inc Stock US90328M1071 0% 9,50%
Hain Celestial Group Inc Stock US4052171000 0% 7,50%
Weight Watchers International Inc Stock US9486261061 0% 7,50%
Technogym SpA Stock IT0005162406 0% 7,33%
Medifast Inc Stock US58470H1014 0% 6,34%
Ingredion Inc Stock US4571871023 0% 7,75%
Nutrisystem Inc Stock US67069D1081 0% 6,00%
Sunopta Inc Stock CA8676EP1086 0% 6,00%
Purecircle Ltd Stock BMG7300G1096 0% 6,58%

Index performance since inception: 

Disclaimer: Historical returns are no guarantee for future performance. A negative development of the instruments contained in the index can lead to a negative development of the overall index. The performance shown here is indexed to a starting value of 100 and corresponds to the gross value development of the Zeitgeist, which will be reduced by the asset management fee of up to 0.85% p.a.
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