Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Simply pure - for real.

Soo you have a craving for some creamy delicious vanilla ice cream (YES people having cravings for vanilla). You hit up the closest grocery store and you're faced with these two badboys. Which one do you choose? Why?

Nestle Real Dairy Natural Vanilla
Nestle Parlour Vanilla

If you happen to have the same mindset as most consumers these days, you'd probably choose the one on the left (Real Dairy) and likely because of two very strategic components of the tub: the word "Real" and the seemingly "clean-label" (i.e free of fancy writing, pop-out graphics, and patterned colour).   Reports in the December issue of Food Technology  show that shoppers are paying more attention to what's going in their bodies and more importantly, what's on the label of the things going into their bodies. Anyone noticed how food labels are becoming more and more.....plain? No, it's not because companies are downsizing and firing all their marketing directors. This "clean-label" is actually a marketing strategy in itself and one that is bringing in the bucks.

On a global level, consumers are getting tired of highly processed foods, and the negative connotations associated with them. "Processed" is now tossed in the same bag as things like "high fructose corn syrup" and (gasp) "white bread," and manufacturers needed to act quickly to deal with this market change.  Since labels are one of the first things a consumer notices, they were the first to undergo a complete makeover. Major food giants have adopted the clean-label, using words like "clean", "simple", "real", and "pure" to remove the "processed" look from their products.  But what does that say about their other products?

Back to the aforementioned ice cream. Nestle's Real Dairy label for the cappuccino flavour reads: "Cappuccino-flavored ice cream made with fresh cream, sugar, eggs, and real coffee. No artificial colours. Made with simple ingredients like fresh cream, sugar and eggs. It's real, done right." Sounds great...but what does that mean, their Parlour ice cream is...."not" real dairy...done wrong? Fake dairy! Preposterous!

Unfortunately, it's actually the perception of 'processing' that has more of an impact on consumer preference, which is why the perception of the product is so very important for food manufacturers.  Example - most shoppers would not consider milk a processed food at all, even though all milk is pasteurized ( a Major processing step). Same goes with all canned goods.

So which ice cream is better? Which one is healthier? Well that entirely depends on your definition of "healthy". If your looking for low-fat, low-cal ice cream, the Parlour wins at 110 calories and 3.5 g of fat per 1/2 cup. If you're looking for fewer artificial additives and ingredients, Real Dairy is for you, with only 11 ingredients. 

All in all, it really depends on what the consumer wants. Are you buying a product or buying into a product? Think about that the next time you're browsing grocery store aisles.



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