Orkla Group Director Håkon Mageli debunks three myths about industrial food in a feature article published in Dagligvarehandelen, the grocery retail industry’s weekly newspaper, on 6 September 2016. Read the article here.
Never has the scepticism about industrially produced food been greater. Never has food in Norway been better. In this article, I want to dispel three myths about industrially produced food.
Food and diet are a topic of daily debate in the media and around kitchen tables. An image has been created of “industrially produced food” as being totally unhealthy, full of additives and made by manufacturers who try to deceive you when it comes to ingredients, raw materials and marketing. In this article I will attempt to do away with three of the myths about industrial food.
Myth no. 1: Home-made food is good, industrial food is bad
I want to share a secret with you. At Orkla we too make food from scratch. We have our own cooks who develop food products for us. We select our raw materials very carefully, and we require that all our suppliers meet stringent requirements. We prepare the food in controlled forms at the right temperature and in compliance with strict hygiene standards.
The Norwegian information office for fruits and vegetables offers advice on how to make jam at home in your own kitchen, and recommends a 2:1 ratio for berries and sugar: two kg of berries to one kg of sugar. I am proud to say that our new Nora jam varieties contain far less sugar than that.
Myth no. 2: The industry is deceiving you
Trying to dupe consumers is an unwise and highly short-sighted business strategy. Our aim is to be your friend in everyday life. If consumers feel that they have been misled when they buy Orkla products, we have a major challenge. You can lure a consumer into buying a product once, but we are completely dependent on the product being bought again and again – and again. The product must have the same quality and taste the same every single time, day after day, year after year. We want our brands to endure for generations. Our existence is based on trust.
Myth no. 3: Industrial food is unhealthy
Making healthier products is high on the agenda at Orkla – and at several of our competitors. The Norwegian Ministry of Health must be commended for having created a wave of support for healthier food. Mr Høie has pushed the industry to reduce the amount of salt, sugar and saturated fat in its products. We at Orkla are in the vanguard in this respect. One example is TORO soups, where we first started to reduce the salt content in 1983. We have gone about doing this gradually, an approach that is crucial. If we remove too much salt too quickly, people will choose another salty product from a competitor or add salt themselves. We won’t have accomplished anything.
At Orkla we were one of the first to replace palm oil with healthier oils. A total of 99% of Orkla Foods Norge’s products are now palm oil-free. We aim to have the last six products, Mr Lee noodles, ready very soon.
Consumption of sugar is also declining, largely thanks to the soft drink industry’s ‘light’ products. Our primary contributions are FUN Light cordials and popular spreads with a lower sugar content. The average Norwegian now consumes 16 kg less sugar per year than he did 16 years ago.
Industrial food is good food
Every single day, 365 days a year, Orkla sells around 8 million consumer units to customers and consumers in a range of countries. Common to all our branded products is that they are chosen again and again every single day because the consumer likes and trusts them. We are glad they do. We are certain that industrial food has never been better or healthier!