A few sustainability pioneers have emerged in the last few years, but by and large there has been a sense of ‘I will if you will’ in the food industry.
Now, though, keeping the world well-fed in spite of a myriad challenges (population growth, climate change, food prices…) has soared up the agenda. More and more companies are waving the sustainability flag, and although manufacturers – who face consumers – are way ahead, green shades will continue creeping up the supply chain.
The gradual turn around of the palm oil filière, previously linked to drastic deforestation and questionable labour practices, shows what is possible when stakeholders club together.
Next year we expect sustainability stories for other raw materials to hit the headlines. And if you’ll excuse the shameless plug, you’ll read about the first on FoodNavigator.
Food price déjà vu
Fasten your seatbelts. It looks like we’re in for another rollercoaster ride on the old commodity markets. This one is more a non-prediction than a prediction, though:
Memories of the 2007/8 food price horror has not yet faded, and the systems put in place back then are about to be tested. Shorter contracts so suppliers don’t have to sweat it out for too long before passing on rises, developing functional systems that reduce or remove the need for red-hot inputs, and ironing out those wrinkles in an efficient, smooth-running operation.
If you’ve done all this, you’re well prepared. Well done that scout.
Ok, so reformulation has been a big deal for the food industry for a while now. Slash that salt, move over sugar, forget the fat – expensive work when consumers insist you don’t touch how it tastes.
But in 2011 we reckon there’ll be even more emphasis on cutting out the costs. If we’re taking the recipe apart anyway, can we replace the cocoa or dairy with something less likely to double in price at the drop of a toque?
Oh, and don’t even think about dirtying that clean label in the process…
Emerging markets are a two-way thing. Food company communications have us convinced that there are hoards of convenience-hungry emerging middle class folk in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe just waiting to for someone to deliver authentic-tasting nosh, with a Western twist or not, that hasn’t taken a week to prepare.
That may be, but it works both ways.
Once a company has taken the time and effort to understand the wild variations in consumer tastes across the regions, they’ll be bringing the lessons back home. Given a Western European an Asian dish that reminds them of the foodie delights on their last foreign holiday not scuppered by snow/ash/strikes and they’ll be your best friend forever.
Innovation is no longer made in the lab. It’s made in the minds of marketers, and anyone who wants to be first to deliver the Next Big Thing would do well make friends with one.
But in 2011 marketers will play an even more central strategic role, using all their nous to communicate health benefits of certain foods that the scientists – but not necessarily EFSA – are quite sure about.
Working with the health claims regulation, while staying just on the right side of legal, will be a defining challenge for 2011.
And with that, we’re off in search of mince pies. Happy holidays to all our readers.
We’ll be back in the office on 3rd January 2011.