It’s an interesting time to be in food and drink.
The impact of discounters needs no further comment from me. It's plainly evident that they have exerted significant pressure on
brands. On top of this, we have seen health drive more and more decisions in store. Our research, alongside many other sources indicate that natural foods have become the proxy for healthier diets - and that this trend is not going to reverse.
Whilst the significance of natural is fast being understood in the food and drink industry, our study measured the relative power of protein, fibre and other health attributes and their impact on overall health perception of a category. We were also able to show that so long as a category could accentuate several positives
(naturally high in several health attributes like fibre) – it could survive
raised sugar or fat associations, for the time being at least.
I have worked in the food industry for over 20 years, and have
seen consumers gravitate towards a ‘what I put into my diet’ mind-set as opposed to a ‘what I
take out’. I don’t see this trend
slowing either – in fact, I believe it is going to accelerate. I believe that brands that fully embrace this
trend and plan how they can demonstrate the raised integrity of their ingredients – that is
to say, the rawness (unprocessed) and potency (efficacy) of ingredients – will
win out. Winning against the rise and
rise of tertiary (discounter) brands as well as safe-guarding the relevance of
packaged foods in an era where natural is best.
Consumers ahead of the health curve are now talking about
‘eating clean’ and ‘seeking nourishment’ to improve the way they feel in their
daily lives. At MMR, our health
segmentation indicates that 45% of the population are currently moving in this
direction. They’ve probably invested in a NutriBullet, which promises to
extract greater nutritional value from food they eat by making it easier for
the body to absorb the nutritional properties. There
is a big risk that these consumers will start to reject packaged food unless
they see a strong nutritional story from your offer.
So what can brands do about it?
Firstly, brands must work with nutritionists and food
technologists to shore up their ingredients' story. Which ingredients could be highlighted to
meet consumers’ daily requirement for ‘nourishment’? What ingredients could be added in a subtle way to have a big impact? Think fortification 2.0 where value is added in high quality food stuffs like matcha, nut flour or ground seeds. What changes could be made to supply chains
to improve the quality of the
Secondly, and here’s the really important thing, brands need
to invest in processes that deliver a finished product that can make claims about its relative rawness (naturalness) and potency (nutritional punch). It has
already started in cereal bars and fruit juice: it’s called ‘Cold Pressed’. One juice brand ‘down under’ tells it as it is: “No
additives or preservatives; just raw,
natural produce straight from the farm to the bottle. We do not pasteurise,
meaning we sustain the integrity of
our juice and the valuable raw and
living nutrients and enzymes available.”* The facts underpinning cold
pressed over traditional centrifugal is compelling (see graphic). But why limit to juice? Cocoa (or even more potent twin Cacao) offers
an amazing nourishment story – if handled correctly up the supply chain and
into that chocolate bar when it reaches the shelf at Tesco.
If brands can up their game in delivering higher levels of
rawness and potency to their finished products, I truly believe that they will
win against tertiary brands and renew their place in the healthier hearts and
minds of the consumer of the future.
Andrew Wardlaw is Global Marketing and Insights Director at MMR