Is industry too old-fashioned to connect with living, breathing, sustainability-loving consumers?

By Virpi Varjonen

- Last updated on GMT

"This industry continues to operate in traditional, old-fashioned ways that are not consumer-centric."
"This industry continues to operate in traditional, old-fashioned ways that are not consumer-centric."

Related tags: Marketing

At FiE the nutrients and ingredients industry quacked a good game, but can it really walk like a sustainability-loving duck? Or is it a sitting duck for hypocrisy and business blindness? wonders Scandinavian strategist, Virpi Varjonen in this FiE post.

FiE focus points were ‘clean labels’, ‘traceability’ and ‘fresh, natural’ – encouraging words, indicating the industry is moving forward in a changing world. But in some cases, these were just that – buzzwords – unbacked by true strategies and systems to deliver on these promises.

And in the case of clean labels, while it’s commendable to see ingredient companies deliver on this consumer demand, it’s a slow reaction to consumer pressure from the industry.

What was absent is the living, breathing consumer – the consumer is still lost in the B2B focus, with few proactive strategies present to incorporate the important consumer at the heart of food value chains.

This industry continues to operate in traditional, old-fashioned ways that are not consumer-centric.

virpi
Virpi Varjonen

And at FiE, we’ve found that many industry persons don’t trust the food value chain, as consumers themselves. But in the mix, we found cases of inspiring people and companies wanting to make change – they’re rethinking their value chains to make them shorter, more transparent and respectful, and deliver what consumers really want.

Despite a ‘business as usual’ approach from many exhibitors at this show, we’re encouraged and inspired to find that there are​ change-makers, who are making progress, and committing their businesses to focus on the consumer, the producer, and the planet – profitably.

Thinking creativity to develop new business models that create win-win scenarios for everyone in their food value chains. And not using 'sustainability' as just a buzzword – but living and breathing sustainability as a company value, with long-term strategies that they are fully committed to.

Virpi Varjonen is a strategist at Invenire​ and a judge at the 2016 NutraIngredients Awards.

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