Food and diet are a topic of daily debate in the media and around kichen tables. Is “industrially produced food” unhealthy, full of additives, and produced by manufacturers attempting to deceive you, asks Håkon Mageli, Orkla Group Director, Corporate Communications and Corporate Affairs in a feature article in Dagligvarehandelen, the grocery retail industry’s weekly newspaper, on 1 November 2016.
Read the feature article here:
Many different stakeholders are instrumental in influencing the general public’s view of industrially processed food. Environmental activists, nutritionists and bloggers are examples of opinion shapers who all have views on the food we eat. Their opinions often carry weight when consumers make their daily choices.
As I mentioned in my previous
feature article in Dagligvarehandelen on 6 September 2016, several myths hold sway over Norwegians’ eating habits. It isn’t true that home-made food is always good and industrial food is bad. Nor is it true that the food industry is trying to trick you, or that industrial food is unhealthy. Making healthier products is high on the agenda at Orkla and that of several of our competitors, and duping consumers is obviously not a sustainable strategy. We make our living based on trust.
But the big question is what the future will bring. How will consumers view industrially manufactured food in the next decade?
Let’s paint three pictures of the future:
Scenario 1 – Status quo
In this scenario, attitudes are about the same as they are today. In a status quo scenario, industrially produced food will still play a key role. At the same time, many consumers are sceptical to the industry and think that they themselves make better, more wholesome food at home in their own kitchen.
Scenario 2 – A strictly regulated regime
Parts of our industry are compared with the tobacco industry in this scenario. The views of highly sceptical bloggers and food writers on industrially produced food have won out. The authorities have introduced strict regulations that make it difficult to engage in active marketing of some products. Various health and environmental taxes have been imposed.
Scenario 3 – A transparent industry
In this scenario, industrially manufactured products are perceived as being predominantly safe, healthy and good. Consumers have a positive image of the food we produce. Product declarations and labelling give people relevant information so that they can trust the food products they buy. Sustainability is one of the most important sales arguments in the grocery industry.
In my view, all these scenarios are realistic. It is up to us as an industry to shape our future.
The industry must develop healthier, more sustainable products and meal solutions. Efforts to reduce salt in products must be intensified, and to an even greater degree consumers must be offered alternatives to sugar and saturated fat. At the same time, the industry must do a better job of telling consumers about the changes that are made. There must be greater transparency about where raw materials are purchased, how products are manufactured, their environmental impact and what they contain.
In this work, proactive industry collaboration is crucial. Cooperation between the food industry, retailers and the authorities must be further developed, and we must set clear common goals.
It is my hope and conviction that the third future scenario will prevail. However, there is no guarantee that we will end up there. Many loud voices are trying to get you to believe that the food industry has no place in the everyday lives of consumers. That is definitely not to the benefit of either consumers or society at large.