Swallow your tongue
passages, and the food and drink industry must accept blame like
Everyone is trying to play the diplomat nowadays. So much so that nobody would ever dream of making a bold statement about anything. But all we are doing is making a bad situation worse. The business world is bombarded with e-mails, phone messages, articles and memos every day. Food and drink firms and associations are right up there with the best of them, too. For example, the International Coffee Organisation talks about a 'slight downward correction during the last month', when it really means coffee prices have dropped. Firms talk about jobs being 'affected', when everyone knows the vast majority of those jobs will be lost. The recent rush of the results season brought us a wealth of ambiguous statements from food firms. One spoke of 'enhancing our geographical footprint', an increasingly trendy phrase, which presumably means the company in question will only employ people with above-average shoe sizes. Others sometimes wow the results crowd with news that their strategy is to 'build a profitable business'. One executive proudly announced last month his company would 'strive to deliver the best results possible' in 2007. This really is 21st Century thinking at its very best. Remember the old days when everyone was in it for the love of the chase and profits were just one of life's little bonuses? No, me neither. All shareholders and journalists want to know is how you plan to make money. So get on with it. Of course, all of these gripes come before we have even considered the press release, for so long a constant source of both amusement and frustration for journalists. In food processing and packaging, wading through jargon such as 'unscheduled machine downtime' or phrases such as 'superior optics' is sadly becoming ever more common. It is also truly incredible how many firms attempt to tack the suffix 'ability' or 'isation' onto words. 'Premiumisation' is a prime example of one that is much overused in food and drink circles, although I have encountered more bizarre efforts - including 'supermarketisation'. Full marks for creativity, nought for anything else. All this at a time when making a point clearly and effectively has become so important. New Scientist magazine recently reported a study which found people exposed to 'information overload' could be damaging their IQs. The research claimed the plethora of calls, e-mails and information thrown up at workers could be more harmful to IQ than cannabis. So don't clog up the information pipeline, just think before you speak. Chris Mercer is editor on BeverageDaily.com and DairyReporter.com. He has also freelanced for mainstream consumer media, including BBC. Send any comments to email@example.com.