Consumers are saying no to “mystery” ingredients, and food companies are listening. We’re pleased to see companies taking overt and deliberate steps to create foods with whole, natural ingredients, fewer preservatives, artificial ingredients and dyes, and to remove items that read like a chemistry lab primer instead of a food label.
Many consumers specifically seek to spend their dollars with companies that communicate with them honestly and openly. From understandable ingredients to clear company practices, consumers want complete transparency when it comes to the products they buy. And food tops the list as an area that needs greater clarity and simplicity.
We are particularly proud of Starbucks new position, “Real Food. Simply Delicious.” They’ve done the seemingly impossible: made the food taste better and actually be better for you. The company’s just-launched new bakery products contain no artificial flavors, dyes or trans fats. They've even removed high-fructose corn syrup, an ingredient that continues to be a hot topic of debate among food and health aficionados. If the Web community is to believed, the new pastries are actually better-tasting than the former products.
Hyde Park Group thinks what Starbucks has done is not only smart eating, it’s smart business. By putting a stake in the ground on “real food,” they’ve started to differentiate themselves as conscientious food retailers — a meaningful statement that sets them apart from the wellspring of other coffee shops and QSRs gone bean-crazy.
The Starbucks food overhaul didn’t start with the bakery products; in fact, over the past few years they’ve gone toward healthier breakfast sandwiches, introduced hot oatmeal, more healthful lunch sandwiches, protein plates, and real Greek yogurt served in smaller, more human-scale portions.
Starbucks is not the only food retailer or restaurant chain to get in sync with consumer demand for real food. Yum! Brands, Burger King, Friendly’s, and others have all taken steps to remove objectionable ingredients or offer fresher, healthier alternatives to their standard fare. And, the move toward posted nutritional information in QSR and casual dining restaurants will surely cause consumers to pause before deciding where to spend their money.
In the packaged food world, we've witnessed major initiatives to "get real" with food; in fact, some of the best new products of 2008 were those with no preservatives, artificial ingredients or dyes. Products like Peas of Mind Organic Baby Food and True North Snacks built their brand propositions around being real and understandable. And, following in the steps of the more forward looking EU, many have started to adopt labeling with front of panel nutritional information and more obvious call-outs on allergens and other additives.
In today's world, processed and quick-serve foods are under greater scrutiny than ever before. Hyde Park Group is committed to helping companies take steps in the "real" direction: to create and adapt products for better taste, better health, and better business. It's a strategy built on consumer demand that just so happens to be the right thing to do.