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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Good nutrition is not a fad but a desire

The food and beverage industry is undoubtedly under pressure in 2018. Consumers are looking for more detailed information and transparency. You only have to glance at social media to see the trends where the focus is on eating well and eating fewer additives and preservatives.

Consumers are also no longer happy to accept approximations.

Under pressure from constant Government health messages and also an increase in the number of foods with health claims, clear labelling has never been more important.

People want to know the whole story and not selected highlights.

Not only this but have you noticed there even seems to be a slight disconnect between what consumers are searching for, or even believe, and what the food and beverage industry considers to being natural? Recently, I was checking out desserts in a well-known high- end supermarket. A zero fat Lemon Mousse actually contained 28 g of sugar! If I had just checked the front I would have eaten it with a feeling of impunity. Little did I realise it was not as squeaky clean as it looked. People want to know the whole story and not selected highlights.

Can clear labelling help the UK obesity problem?

It’s this confusion that requires a new approach. Certainly there has been a call for cleaner label products. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’sFat Fighttried very hard to encourage a major serial producer to change their labelling to show just how much sugar was in a bowl of cereal. Sadly at the time of writing this has yet to happen. What consumers require is clear information about what they’re eating. After all, it’s important, when as a nation, we seem to be struggling so badly to watch our collective weight.

Clear labelling is an opportunity surely?

The food and beverage industry may well see sales even increase if they amend product content and labelling to tap into the zeitgeist. There has been a considerable increase in the number of people experiencing higher blood sugar. Certainly they do have difficulties keeping an eye and what they are eating. It’s almost a full time occupation. Surely there is a massive marketing opportunity going begging?

Clear labelling will probably prompt people to buy.

No one wants to spend longer in a supermarket then they have to and when people are forced to scrutinise tiny labels with confusing nutritional information it’s a bit of a nightmare. Does it really have to be like this?

People are looking for reassurance but are they currently getting it?

Actually it’s not just clear labelling that’s required. Supply chain transparency is also top of the menu. Marks & Spencer is marketing the fact they can trace every steak back to an individual animal.People are looking for reassurance. Clean labelling is now considered a rule and not just a fad according to Innova market insights.

Can we maintain shelf life without compromising on flavour?

It is certainly time to continue developing products with specific consumer needs in mind. We have seen the introduction of the sugar tax and doubtless there are other initiatives that will follow. Already household names are re formulating recipes as consumers become more knowledgeable. Of course the pressure is on to maintain shelf life but not compromise on flavour

The food and beverage industry needs a new breed of staff

These staff must understand consumer need and see it as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. At the start of product development the consumer should be right, left and centre. The nation’s health also has massive implications for the economy, the National Health Service and overall happiness. Food plays an enormous role in our lives. Manufacturers play a big part in the whole debate. Finding people who are prepared to embrace change and have the technical expertise and know-how to effect change is key.

Clear labeling is not the only consumer concern in 2018

Not only are we in a position where health is central to so many news items. There is a growing feeling that packaging; waste and ‘best before’ dates are not acceptable aspects of the food industry. Our drive towards 100% food supply always available also needs some review perhaps. Consumers are open to education and most are keen to do the right thing for themselves, their wallets and the environment – probably in that order.

Millennial's are helping to shape the future of consumerism

Millennial's are keen on provenance and specifics. Most will not simply accept an approximation; they need proof. It’s certainly difficult to create transparency and trust but very simple to lose it. Social media and the Internet are ready to take on spurious claims to task and there’s no place to hide.

Consumers have historically placed trust in the Food and Beverage Industry

Yet following a number of high profile food safety incidents they are taking more control and demanding more. Any manufacturer who does not fall into line will almost inevitably watch their market share decline. Consumers know they have power and have never been more willing to wield it.

Do you have the right caliber of staff to embrace these challenges?

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