Case Studies Blog

Are food brands in trouble?

9th October 2015

It is hard to pick up a magazine, watch TV or listen to the radio without the subject of food being covered at length. Celebrities such as Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall as well as programmes like The Great British Bake Off and Masterchef have raised the public consciousness about what goes in our food to a point where consumers are now taking a much greater interest in what goes into food the food they eat and what the consequences are for their health.

It is too early to see whether current consumer interest and awareness will be matched by concerted action to change personal eating habits away from processed and packaged foods toward fresh home prepared ones. The rising tide of obecity and the dramatic increase in the prevalence of diabeties suggests that old habits die hard. In the future brands will have to be much more transparent about what is in their food or they risk a real consumer backlash. Frankly the industry has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into being more honest about what is in their food. The current labelling regulations are an improvement but they are still bewildering and misleading.

A standard beefburger can only be classified as such if it comprises a minimum of 62% beef. Similarly, a chicken (or other poultry) or rabbit burger must contain a minimum of 55% meat, and a pork burger 67% minimum pig meat. An economy beefburger must contain 47% meat, a chicken burger 41% and a pork burger 50% pig meat.

Under European law, the term “meat” is defined as “skeletal muscle with naturally included or adherent fat and connective tissue” which has not been mechanically stripped from the carcass.

When put like that none of the above sound very appetising but all this is lost behind pretty packaging, slick advertising and pseudo science “5 a day rhetoric”. If food brands don’t start to get their house in order consumers will eventually vote with their feet. Ironically brands came into existence as a stamp of quality now food brands are in danger of being seen as the lowest common denominators in any food category.