I ADMIT IT. I’m the kind of guy that’ll pick up a book based on its cover. Sometimes it works: “The Princess Bride”; “Life of Pi”. Sometimes not: “Naked Lunch”; “Leaving Tabasco”. But the fact is that I’ll always read the back cover to gauge what might be inside.
I do the same with food (much to my wife’s chagrin – a supermarket shop can take time). And I enjoy it. Meanwhile the time pressed, money-conscious remainder of the store’s (temporary) inhabitants buzz in and out as quickly as possible. Or do they?
In the past few years a litany of research has shown that consumers are becoming progressively (and encouragingly) interested in what they buy. Whether it’s a pack of yoghurts, a T-bone steak or a ready meal (especially a ready meal) more people today are looking beyond price. And even when they’re eating out (see Footprint October’s special report).
According to research consultants at Allegra Strategies, consumers are suspicious that when prices are low, quality is compromised. In fact, transparency now ranks above sustainability, ethics and health when it comes to the weekly food shop.
“The food industry now has to make a conscious and public move from stating that they have nothing to hide, to a position of proactively demonstrating full and complete transparency,” concluded Allegra in its “2013 How Britain Eats” report. The food research charity IGD has similarly called for a “revolution in transparency”, while the National Audit Office has found there is “confusion” about who is responsible for ensuring product authenticity.
The audit office’s report (see page 6) highlighted a case in Ireland where studies on a pizza found it consisted of 35 different ingredients that passed through 60 countries on five continents. It doesn’t mention if this information was on the box.
Indeed, it was great to hear members of the Footprint Health & Vitality Special Interest group informing DH officials recently about their work on nutrition. Let’s keep the dialogue up and the doors open.
Ps You’ll notice a waste theme in many of this month’s features. That’s to get you thinking about the issue before our next FootprintChannel programme on November 21st.