Consumer Labeling and the Evolution of Clean

Are consumers reading labels? Yes they are — according to the International Food Information Council’s annual survey, Food Insight 2014, 65 percent of consumers read the Nutrition Facts Panel, second only to the number of adults that look for the expiration date (66 percent). Their attitudes towards label claims have evolved over the years. A recent talk delivered at Food Labeling: Strategic Regulatory Compliance, early in February, by Shelly McKee, Ph.D., Director of Technical Services for the American Egg Board revealed what attracts consumer buyers and what turns them off.

Food manufacturers need to pay careful attention to what they put on the label, not just due to government oversight, but also to earn and hold onto consumer trust. Only 38 percent of U.S. consumers say they trust what is on the label. (Mintel).

A full 93 percent of consumers prefer to see common names for ingredients on their labels, while 61 percent of consumers believe that a product labeled “all natural” is healthier (Mintel, 2013). This obviously creates a paradox for marketers between a stated consumer desire for natural, versus the threat of a lawsuit based on the amount of current litigation surrounding the term.

What the food manufacturing industry turns to in lieu of natural is a “clean” label, however this is an insider, industry phrase. Consumers call it something else. Regardless of the term and many have emerged — clear, simple, authentic, transparent — several surveys and studies show what the term means to the buying public.

According to a Gallup survey, U.S. adults identify clean labels as having

  • All natural ingredients
  • Recognizable ingredients
  • No artificial preservatives
  • No artificial ingredients
  • No added sugar
  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • No MSG

The list of what they don’t want seems to outweigh what they do. There are also surveys that reveal the positive things consumers want on product labels and examples of products that capitalize on these desires. However, the list of “Nos” leads into another subsection of labeling, the “free-from” movement. We’ll examine what that means in our next blog post. 

2015-02-18 17:39:29

Incredible Breakfast Trends Regional Flavors are “In”

Your favorite breakfast might depend on your geographic location. Despite the proliferation of chain restaurants and national retail brands for packaged goods, regional preferences and tastes abound and influence our food choices. Three areas of the country in particular have had a strong influence on breakfasts, identified in the latest Incredible Breakfast Trends  report for the first quarter of 2015. 

Trend 1: New York City Melting Pot 

Millions of immigrants entered through the gateway of Ellis Island and while some scattered to other parts of the country, many stayed in New York. The city has remained one comprised of ethnic neighborhoods, each with its own cuisine. 

Breakfasts influenced by ethnic cuisines are arguably the most interesting meals. The 2015 National Restaurant Association (NRA) survey of American Culinary Federation chefs listed ethnic-inspired and traditional ethnic breakfast items as the top two trends respectively in the Breakfast/Brunch category. And ethnic-inspired breakfasts ranked sixteenth overall within the top 20 food trends for 2015. 

Trend 2: Southern Cookin’ 

Chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, grits and ham might be Southern staples, but even those north of the Mason-Dixon line enjoy this fare. The numbers prove it; Datassential shows egg dish ingredients of grits, country ham and biscuits tracking at 213, 162 and 145 percent of the national average, respectively. And in the south, breakfast sandwiches include both ham and biscuits approximately twice as often as the national average. 

Trend 3: California Sunrise 

In addition to its dedication to better-for-you breakfasts, California also favors fusion cuisine, to marry the best of foods and techniques, keeping menus dynamic. Datassential verifies that overall a full 50 percent of Americans are now interested in BFY breakfasts. And the NRA chef survey verifies that fusion cuisine is taking hold of the country at large as California spreads its influence to other states. Chefs ranked ethnic fusion cuisine above authentic ethnic cuisine as the top trend for that category. 

Menu trends do find their way into the retail case when food manufacturers create an adaptation that appeals to consumers who want to control their eating location, occasion and price point. The majority of consumers say their tastes are shaped by their restaurant experiences, however the majority of meals are not eaten inside a restaurant, on the road, at work and at home. (NPD1) 

These trends are becoming reflected in the brigade of breakfast offerings in the retail freezer case. Tyson Day Starts line was comprised initially of seven varieties, among them the Southern Style Chicken Biscuit, joined by a bevy of egg/cheese/sausage combinations on a variety of enticing grain-based canvases, from flatbread to biscuits and wraps.  The unique part of this market entry is that it came from a company, whose prepared food offerings account for just 10 percent of its revenue, showcasing the dynamic opportunities that exist for food manufacturers in the prepared food breakfast segment. Tyson said in a recent Bloomberg article that it is examining further options for the breakfast market.2 

The regional taste trends found on restaurant menus prime consumer taste buds to offer food manufacturers greater leeway for experimentation with bold ethnic flavors and tastes. A simple sauce, the right spice combination or even a particular cheese selection can elevate the handheld breakfast sandwich, bowl or prepared meal to a regionally-inspired overnight success.



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2015-02-18 17:36:27