Business Leaders' Forum

Mixed messages complicate production

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Regulation

Calls for clean-label foods are put on the backburner in favour of creating products that are tastier and have a better mouthfeel, according to ingredients supplier Griffith Foods.

In this exclusive interview, Griffith Foods European marketing manager Cat Smith highlighted the mixed messages surrounding clean-label and its impact on the alternative proteins market. He was filmed at Food Manufacture's ​Business Leaders' Forum 2020, which was supported by host sponsor Walker Morris and associate sponsor EDF.

“One thing we’ve been asked to look at a lot by our customers is clean-label,”​ said Smith. “It’s so common across all of our categories – whether it be seasoning, sauces, ready-to-cook or frozen – we really want no additives, no preservatives, but they also want as much shelf life as possible. We’ve always had that battle with trying to balance the two.

Worry about clean-label later

“What’s really interesting is the alternative protein – not so much the plant-based, but where we’re trying to create an analogue meat. Very interestingly the retailers are asking for something that looks like meat, tastes like meat and feels like meat and it’s okay if it’s not clean-label, we can worry about that later.”

Smith identified that most consumers would turn their noses up at the lengthy ingredients lists on packaging for some alternative proteins, but this was the price to pay to produce a meat analogue that looked and tasted the part.

“What we’re trying to work on is to get the product right first, to get the taste and the texture right,”​ she continued.

Refining the recipe comes next

When we find something that really works in the market – that the consumer likes and is selling really well and can go into more than one different kind of ready meal or finished product – then we will have to work on refining the recipe. That’s when we’ll face the real challenge.”

Other issues raised during the forum included the work by manufacturers to make their packaging more sustainable. For Griffith Foods, the problem lay in creating packaging that kept flavours in food locked in, but was still recyclable, said Smith.

“It can’t go in your kerbside recycling,”​ said Smith. “It would have to go back to the retailer to be recycled and we’re not certain that the consumer is quite prepared to do that. I feel it’s a big step at the moment.”

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