Updated: Jan 2
The world of food and drinks in the current retail marketplace is facing a growing and increasingly complex challenge. Government-led ‘responsibility deals’ and public pressure have shed a negative light on commonly used ingredients such as salt, fat, artificial colours and flavours - and now sugar. A significant increase in the rate of childhood obesity and type II diabetes is leading the UK Government, health authorities, and brand owners to think seriously about the use of sugar in their products and reducing its overall levels.
Yet, making customers aware of healthy eating still represents a great challenge in this country, where just 12% of people get their 5 a day and there is a significant increase in health problems, due to unhealthy eating habits which have stemmed from consumers early years.
It is important now that the actions of the government focus on changing the direction of people's dietary choices.
This situation is occurring with a backdrop of 1000 calories costing £7.49 compared to non-healthy alternatives at only £2.50, according to recent research carried out by Cambridge University. It is difficult to encourage customers to buy healthier products in this period of austerity; with the real cost of living on the increase, never before has the need for focused and exact beverage formula development been greater than it is now.
Many new food and beverage companies are entirely focused on these points and are taking the lead in areas where perhaps the traditional larger companies are failing, as they are using old-established profit-driven (cheaper) solutions that do not tick what today’s consumer demand. Families are now increasingly more educated and discerning in their consumer choices, especially for children, and are warmly responding to more responsible and healthy food options that are also affordable.
Another important factor is customers' price expectation; with economic growth relatively sluggish and consumers savvier in their spending patterns, many are still expecting lower prices for foods without the compromise of quality to benefit their family.
Traditionally cost prices have been somewhat of secondary importance in using inferior ingredients to, therefore, maximise profitability. Any meaningful impact on children’s health can only be achieved with healthier ingredients at competitive price points. Catering for the so-called "99%" is usually not the focus of many brand owners and they consistently focus on the ideology of benefiting those who commonly cannot afford "better for you products". Producing healthier products at a competitive price is a challenge, it is not an insurmountable one.
New brand developers like us are pioneering extensive research to nurture and develop innovative products, utilising new natural ingredients such as Stevia to both lower costs in commonly consumed foods replace them with like for commercially acceptable tastes.
This has all led to a new “Mid Calorie” category emerging which allows trusted brands to establish their products as part of daily consumption for all - away from seasonal, more niche diet products that might only appeal to one consumer type.
With new innovative companies leading the way by producing healthier and affordable products, other brands and retailers alike are being forced to step up and finally address the issue.
At Whatever Brands we have taken particular dissatisfaction at the state of what can be accessible to all community groups and we are now working with various food bank charities to provide better products for those who cannot afford them as part of our work in the community.