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Insider View: November 2016

Insider View: November 2016

….brands in all forms feel the need to signal the value of their food content, provenance and social acceptability, but are they enjoyed?

The pressure on persuading us to eat better, healthier and to consider the wider implications of how our food and drink is sourced and produced has never been stronger.  Virtue signalling is rife and powerful.  New brands flaunt their new generation credentials both in name and construction.  And established brands and retailers are following swiftly behind. Foods are now full of Spelt, Tempura Batter and sustainable fish.  They are aromatic, fragrant, and Steamfresh; they Love Life, are Gluten Free and Nutrient Rich… and those phrases are drawn from the descriptors of just the first 10 products in our test list from November.

But are they enjoyable?  Taking the full list of 36 new products we tested in the month 81% achieved an overall rating at best within 2 points of the norm rating for their category.  53% were rated below the average rating for products of their type.  There is no doubt we need to change our diets and that adjustment takes time, but many of the new lines are a little short on enjoyment values.  Soya Ice Cream may be better for you on some measures, but why doesn’t  it have much chocolate or hazelnut flavour, or have to be cheap tasting?  More to the point, why are so many of these lines poor value for money?

No wonder M&S do so well with their food.  They seem to offer a promise of enjoyment and value for money with the right dusting of contemporary values to re-assure, both on-pack and in-store. Two good examples were tested this month, but we have seen the same balance of skills evident even in Free From Foods, which now have a significant presence even in the smallest M&S food outlet.  Christmas is a great excuse to give up on healthier choices; once we are reassured that the Turkey was free range and the sprouts sustainable, what can we do?  But, January and the time of reckoning, is just around the corner…

In November we consumer tested a range of 10 premium sausages from across retailers ahead of British Sausage Week. Visit our website to check out the winners.

The Top rating products this month:

  • This month’s Showcase Product 161129: M&S’s Gastropub Ham & Chicken Crumble. At £4.00 considered “expensive for one”, but well worth it given its “good quality ingredients”. (Rating 44/50 Review 161129)
  • Wahaca Street Food bought fun new values to an already popular product category with their Soft Taco Kit. Matching the appeal of the major brand, they were full of flavour’.  Rating 47/50 Review 161118.
  • They may be packed in a sharing bag, but not many of our testers would. M&S Chocolate Cookie Dough Bites were ‘too good to share’. Rating 47/50.  Review 161122

Those with more limited appeal…

  • The strong health message was a key selling point for Barenaked Zero Fat Noodles, but their ‘consistency and absence of taste was a step too far for most consumers’. Rating 20/50 Review 161117
  • Love Life Green Pea GF Pasta may be healthy but turned out soft and soggy, with a taste like mushy peas that only attracted those who needed a GF option, particularly at £1.99 Rating 24/50 Review 161106.
  • Proper Pops promote the protein in its new savoury snack: Lime, Lemongrass & Garlic Nutrient Rich Popped Chips, Rating 25/50 Review 161108. A novel idea, but simply too hot and lemony for most.

    Download this month’s Insider View as a PDF
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