26 October, 2019

The food industry quickly responded to WHO’s pressure, to develop a healthier range of food and beverage products.  The industry rolled out an extensive health and wellness and human sustainability agenda. To support this agenda, they introduced nutrition guard rails to guide healthier new product formulation and core product reformulation. In recent years, some food industry members have successfully reduced negative nutrients and added positive nutrition in the portfolio. The challenge however, is that there is still a long way to go  and the overall journey has not been an easy one. Unfavorable economy, consumer readiness for change and healthier product cost, have impeded progress with human sustainability goals.

Hence, it is probably time to sit up and revisit the human sustainability and portfolio transformation strategy. Following are some out of box ideas for success with this strategy:

1. Create A Human Sustainability Consumer Advisory Board

You may want to consider shifting gears from a scientific advisory board, to a health and wellness consumer advisory board.  Members of the board could include your target consumers and lapsers.

1. Create A Health And Wellness Consumer Advisory Board

 

Consult consumers about your human sustainability or portfolio transformation agenda.

Ask them to come up with recommendations for portfolio transformation. It is very likely that they may come up with some great recommendations, as the challenges you face as an industry, are probably the same challenges they experience every day in the kitchen. Moms with kids, 40 plus year old's wanting to live healthfully in the golden years, all trying to eat healthfully. They potter around the internet looking for healthier recipes. And they don’t always succeed 100%, as taste always wins! Also, be prepared, your consumer may actually tell you, they don’t want you to renovate their ‘treat’ foods.  They may just want a smaller portion of the ‘treat’ food. They may actually ask you to renovate every day foods only.

You could also consider hosting a virtual challenge or reality TV show.

In this show, ask consumers who are interested in healthy cooking to come up with recipes for healthier product innovations, that are aligned with your nutrition guard rails.  This is a great way to shed light on the fact, that the nutrition guard rails are stringent and difficult to achieve.  And the final dish may require major adaptation of taste buds!

Involving consumers has a three-fold benefit:

– One, you create awareness about the challenges you as the food industry are having with health and wellness-focused product development.

This works well from a reputation stand-point, as consumers will begin to understand your serious intent to change and challenges with healthier product development or reformulation. Also, they won't see you as the 'big bad food industry' once they realize that your challenge is similar to their healthy food experience in the kitchen. With a good media outreach plan, you should also be able to reach regulators! And they will be more likely to sit with you, to discuss nutrient cut-off limits.

INDUSTRY’S RENOVATION CHALLENGES ARE SIMILAR TO CONSUMERS HEALTHY MEAL PREPARATION KITCHEN CHALLENGES; AND THESE CHALLENGES ARE NOT EASY!

Food Industry Health and Wellness

-Two, you create awareness about the need for change.

Many consumers are fence sitters – they intuitively know they need to change, but they are either unwilling to make the change or they don’t know where or how to start. Once you create awareness about the need for change and possibilities  for change in the kitchen, they will start making small changes in their kitchens.  With this awareness, they will probably be more receptive to your product renovations. Hence, with this initiative, you can drop down the biggest hurdle the food industry has with the human sustainability agenda i.e., the consumer readiness for healthier renovated products.

WHEN YOU CREATE AWARENESS ABOUT THE NEED FOR CHANGE, AND OPTIONS FOR CHANGE, CONSUMERS WILL BE MORE LIKELY TO ADOPT YOUR RENOVATED PRODUCTS.

-Three, you won’t have to go through a silent reduction.

You could publicize the change by stating, ‘we heard your recommendations and our chefs have adopted your recipes to come up with xxx’. With the ownership for transformation, consumers will be more likely to adopt a renovated healthier portfolio of products.

2. Test Human Sustainability Nutrition Guardrails With Scientific Experts In The Kitchen!

Challenge Scientific Experts In The Kitchen!Conduct healthier recipe challenges with nutrition and dietetic university students; or dietitians in hospitals. Give them the nutrition guard rails and ask them to come up with a range of actual products in the kitchen. Ask consumers to taste the products and comment on the products; and then ask the teams to revisit the products with consumer recommendations.

This initiative has two benefits:

1) It will encourage scientific experts and regulators to look at nutrient cut-off limits with a practical lens.

As what is possible in the kitchen, is what will be possible in a factory.

REGULATORS NEED TO LOOK AT NUTRIENT CUT-OFF LIMITS WITH A PRACTICAL LENS.  IF IT WONT’T WORK IN THE KITCHEN, IT WON’T WORK IN THE FACTORY.

2) With media outreach of this challenge, consumers will become aware of the need for change.

They will learn how small changes can make big differences to the food they cook at home. With this awareness for change, consumers will be more likely to taste, try and consume your healthier product range.

3. Consumer Nutrition Education Is Important For Achieving Human Sustainability Goals  

Use CSR Funds To Educate Your Consumer Food and beverages are your core products! So, make CSR all about food and beverages! Focus on how you can educate your target consumer to adopt healthy lifestyles and eat a healthy diet. Also, for education, focus on your target consumer only – if you are in the business of selling to millennials, target worksites!  If your target consumer is children, don’t go to schools, go to moms, as they are the decision makers. If your NGO partner insists on schools, negotiate an integrated program that includes the parents, to ensure the child goes home to an environment that delivers the healthier food he is asked to consume. You could also consider going to secondary schools or university students, as older children can guide product purchase decisions too!

With nutrition education, you increase consumer readiness to compromise on taste, if a product is healthier.

EDUCATE CONSUMERS ABOUT NUTRITION AND HEALTHY LIFESTYLES, TO MOTIVATE THEM TO PURCHASE YOUR HEALTHIER RENOVATED PRODUCT!

Conclusion

Achieving human sustainability and portfolio transformation goals is not easy, but you need to work towards understanding what your consumer wants first. Then gradually get them to understand your challenges and work with you, to come up with portfolio transformation solutions that are feasible and meet their needs. Also, your regulators are consumers too, don’t treat them differently – help them understand that your challenges are also their daily kitchen challenges and work with them to come up with practical nutrition limits! And finally, spend money on educating your target consumer about nutrition and healthy eating, as a knowledgeable consumer is more likely to accept a healthier portfolio of products and compromise on taste, if required!