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Ingredients firms should battle to bust consumer myths: Innova

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Food makers need to be more transparent about what’s in their products, Innova’s Kilic claims
Food makers need to be more transparent about what’s in their products, Innova’s Kilic claims

Related tags: Consumer protection

Food and drink ingredients makers should do more to fight bad science and misinformed consumer opinion, a leading trends analyst has claimed.

Ingredients companies should “re-assess” ​the way they communicate to see whether they can individually or collectively provide fact-based information to the market, said Özden Kilic, market analyst manager at Innova Market Insights.

Speaking exclusively to FoodManufacture.co.uk at Health Ingredients Europe (HiE), held in Frankfurt last week (November 29 – December 1), Kilic suggested transparency was key to overcoming many of the myths about food being circulated on the internet and in social media.

“Other than stevia, which has received a great deal of promotion from large companies highlighting that it comes from a natural plant, I can’t think of many examples of ingredients that have been clearly explained to the consumer,”​ he said.

‘Approach worth considering’

Innova’s top 10 trends

  1. Clean supreme
  2. Disruptive green
  3. Sweeter balance
  4. Kitchen symphony
  5. Body in tune
  6. Plain sophistication
  7. Encapsulating moments
  8. Beyond pester power
  9. Fuzzy borders
  10. Seeds of change

“I definitely think it’s an approach worth considering, in some cases. Otherwise, the industry finds itself in defence mode. In contrast, providing the right science-based data should be enough for consumers to make a decision as to whether the product is harmful for them or not,”​ Kilic added.

The internet was making consumer opinion more important than ever, Kilic claimed, and food firms were responding accordingly.

“Twenty years ago, consumers would base their decisions on sources such as education, government leaflets, or the information they would find on product packaging.

“Now, everyone has access to information, and it’s not controlled. Any consumer who is worried about the use of an artificial ingredient can go online and read material they believe to is correct.”

McDonald’s was an example of a company showing greater transparency to overcome a negative consumer perception, Kilic claimed.

‘Show how their food is made’

“On the McDonald’s website, they show how their food is made, have initiatives where they invite people into their kitchen, and even offer you a chance to ask them questions. It’s all about providing full disclosure in return for trust.”

Tied in with this need for transparency was the emergence of clean- and clear-labelling, one of Innova’s top 10 food and drink trends for 2017.

“If clean-label is about taking out ingredients, then clear-label is not just simplifying your formulations, but really providing more transparency, about your formulations, about your processing, and about where it is sourced from,”​ Kilic said.

“It’s a change of paradigm that’s really running through the industry.”

Innova used HiE to showcase its top 10 trends for 2017, which can be viewed in our photogallery here​.

Meanwhile, the British Nutrition Foundation has announced a programme of work to dispel many widely-held consumer myths​ concerning food.

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2 comments

Food ingredients

Posted by Clive Teobald,

I check foods labels to keep my salt, sugar and fats consumption under some control. I am horrified at the amount of ingredients, additives or whatever that are listed. The worst offenders are the so-called 'healthy' products. Frankly I put the product back on the shelf. You would NEVER add these ingredients when cooking at home, so why in factories? This is why processed food has such a bad name. There is a message here for manufacturers.

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Great initiative

Posted by Dave,

....but in my experience companies prefer to keep things vague, so they can get away with selling subpar stuff (e.g. with low or zero bioavailability).

Transparancy is also abused by companies that spread incomplete or completely false information, but are advertising this as 'being transparant'.

In the end it's all about the money, not the product. Again, this is my experience as a consumer and a manufacturer.

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