How food and drink brands can win with ingredients

D40_40_z_team_andy_wardlaw2016

May 19, 2015

by Andrew Wardlaw


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 ingredients sourced?

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