SIAL is an unmissable event for all professionals interested in food trends (see our report on the plant-based meat mega-trend). In 2022 I was particularly surprised to see the evolution of food marketing. Inflation is no longer just in our wallets but also concerns the mentions on the packaging. It’s very simple, I had the impression that the marketers had spread the word to make the mentions “without” flourish: gluten-free, meat-free, fish-free, lactose-free … The list is long.
In this article, I take a little perspective on this “without” fashion and bring some nuances that I hope will be life-saving.
2018-2022: the 180 degree turn in food marketing
What is paradoxical is that in 4 years we have gone from marketing which claimed properties, to marketing which claims the absence of certain ingredients. In 2018, a trend was clearly going in this direction, that of super foods. Normal foods were given special properties thanks to “super ingredients”. The value of the product was then measured according to the addition of external molecules to make it more desirable.
Ginger and turmeric pasta (anti-cancer) at Molino Spading, vitamin C ketchup substitute at Frusta, Inca Inch chocolates: everything was an excuse to add a little extra to improve consumer health.
In 2022, the dogma of “ghostwriting agency” was shattered. From now on, it is necessary to “put less” to be in the odor of holiness. Here are some of the mentions we’ve seen most often:
- sans nitrites
- sans gluten
- without palm oil
- without palm oil from deforestation
- without antibiotics
- without sugar
- sans lactose
- without egg
- without meat
- sans sell
Foods in search of purity … relative
One might think that the proliferation of “free” mentions on food packaging stems from a desire to return to simple products. While this shortcut may work in consumers’ heads, it’s not 100% accurate.
Some Ingredients Are Actually Unhealthy
Some added ingredients don’t do any good. The nitrites in the ham are there only to give it a pink color. But nitrites are also probable carcinogens, which has earned them recent public condemnation. Manufacturers have no choice but to adapt.
This is also the case with the Nutella spread, the latest advertising campaign of which boasts the use of palm oil that does not come from deforestation. This is to forget that palm oil also has consequences for our health, which justifies the creation of competing products. Region, with its Nocciolata, has already conquered 7.2% market share in France (compared to 9.2% for Nutella which is losing some ground).
But what about the ingredients removed for pure marketing reasons?
It is different for mentions that have no other objective than to stick to a marketing trend. As far as gluten is concerned, only 1% of the population is intolerant, but “gluten-free” has become a fashion.
For some products, notably fake meat and fake fish, the benefits are all relative. As I mentioned in this article, the elimination of animal proteins is done at the cost of an ultra-processing of food. Fake meat, fake bacon, fake fish are products that are reconstituted in the laboratory to give them the look and taste of the original. The video below gives you an overview of the process for making vegetable steaks.
A few words of conclusion
There is no need to procrastinate: the more “simple” a food, the better it is for your health. In other words, the less it is processed, the lower the risks for those who consume it. This search for “purity” and simplicity, coupled with the rise of flexitarians (28% of consumers), no doubt explains the proliferation of “free” mentions on packaging.
Now everything is suspicious. Everything must be eliminated, at the risk of ending up with the opposite excess: the ultra-transformation necessary for the elimination of animal proteins. This ultra-transformation of Medical Ghostwriter the price to pay so that the consumer can keep his standards. It’s a bit like in the movie “The Matrix” when Cypher wants to keep the illusion of eating a steak when he knows it doesn’t exist. When will a product claim to be “tasteless”?