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Insider View: April 2016

Insider View: April 2016

…….. educating the next generation is essential but too much intervention can be counterproductive.

Supermarkets were under fire again this month, this time from a report published by the NFU[1]  investigating the fall in fruit and veg consumption. The report points the finger at retailers for failing to promote fruit and vegetables, and calls for more industry and government initiatives to help drive consumer purchases.  But the focus on good value fruit and veg is evident at every level of the Trade.  Whilst education can only be a good thing, it is time for consumers to take more ownership of their diet. Too many initiatives can backfire, with plenty of evidence to suggest that consumers are either getting confused, or ignoring the bombardment of health related food missives. The situation is not helped by the contradictory reports that emerge regularly about food and drink. Demonising certain foods and over-promoting others is often unhelpful. The popularity of The Great British Bake Off sits alongside top viewing figures for food blogs such as Deliciously Ella and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, which advocate cutting out certain food groups altogether.  The sugar tax is a classic example where conflicting demands have resulted in a tough time for the wider industry. Consumers were already cutting down on their fizzy drink consumption (well before the levy comes into force in 2018), or misunderstanding what is already on offer (Coca-Cola[2] is set to launch its biggest marketing campaign in the UK and plans to re-name Coca-Cola Zero Sugar after research highlighted consumers did not realise that zero meant no sugar). Meanwhile sales of Energy/Sports drinks continue to rise whilst sales of Fruit Smoothies and juices tank on the news that they are full of sugars, albeit 1 of many people’s 5 a day. The Dairy Drinks industry is the latest sector to be totally transformed by advice. Recent figures suggest that almost 12 million people in the UK think they are dairy intolerant, but most are not formally diagnosed. This has prompted a range of milk alternatives with various nut based milks gaining popularity as well as innovation within the cow’s milk category. Latest entries to the market are aimed at the growing numbers who are ‘gut aware’. For example, milk containing A2 protein is supposed to be easier to digest and contains all the vitamins and protein of regular cow’s milk. This is unlike many other non-dairy substitutes, which can also be loaded in additions to disguise their taste. Coconut, almond and soya milk are becoming mainstream (Starbucks even launched a Coconut Latte earlier this year, with mixed success) in the same way as gluten free products. But, as with many food fads of recent years, only time will tell if these milk alternatives will survive the next Government initiative, or Celeb trend in healthy eating.

Fresh Produce benchmarking and consumer testing are part of the Cambridge MR service portfolio.   Contact Heather Baker on 01223 492069 to find out more.

  • Old fashioned cuts are making a come-back – Ox Cheek in Waitrose’s Duchy Originals Soup (35)  initially deterred some younger testers but, proved to be a pleasant surprise (Review 160401)
  • Kepak made the most of the continuing Pulled Pork trend by adding an oriental twist (Big Jake’s Chinatown Pulled Pork, Review 160406, 40)
  • Leverstoke Park Farm’s Mini Chorizo was made with British pork using ‘a third generation Italian artisan charcuterist’ to season the meat, but this benefit was rather hidden in its understated pack (Review 160405)

[1] Research by the Royal Agricultural University, reported in The Grocer 23rd April 2016

[2] Reported on ‘ Big Food in health drive to keep market share’, April 2016

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