Pure nutrient manipulation is no longer the main indicator of a product’s healthfulness, as the level of processing and freshness is also a cause for concern among consumers. This leads to the increasing importance of a natural positioning that emphasises authenticity and the simplicity of production, portraying a holistic view of wellness. Cooking ingredients must convey values close to consumers’ health and ethical beliefs.
Consumers are increasingly concerned about the health risks of highly processed packaged foods; an image which cooking ingredients and meal products are particularly associated with. Health claims and ethical labels that convey a simpler production process are being favoured.
Consumers’ focus is shifting from the reduction in sugar, salt or fat towards the more naturally wholesome attributes of a product and a nutritionally balanced meal. Meal solution products will increasingly be expected to be “Organic” and “free from” unwanted ingredients rather than better-for-you; while also “natural” and “locally sourced”.
Among saturated markets such as Western Europe, a simple and positive image combined with novel, natural flavours can stand out in the aisles. In more developing regions such as Southeast Asia and the Middle East and Africa, clean labels such as no preservatives or no MSG can enable a brand to shift to the premium end.
As brand disruption becomes a more common trait in packaged food, innovation needs to be approached holistically. This not only implies a clear message through ingredient selection and natural and clean labels; but also gaining consumer traction through transparency of practice, notably through “locally sourced” labels, as part of the brand’s story.
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