Food Additives: Is less more even when more is the whole idea?
By Bernice Hurst, Managing Director, Fine Food Network
It looks as if food manufacturers really are listening and acting. According to research from the MINTEL Global New Products Database (GNPD), one in every four (24 percent) new food and drink launches in the UK so far this year claimed to be ‘additive- and preservative-free’ – up from just 8 percent in 2004.
So far this year, almost 1,000 new products that claim to contain no additives or preservatives hit supermarket shelves, up from the 800 or so launched during all of 2006. ‘Additive- and preservative-free’ became the number one health claim in the food and drinks market, overtaking ‘low fat’ (including low, no and reduced fat products) in the UK in 2006 for the first time ever.
Spokesman David Jago, director of Mintel GNPD Custom Solutions, explained, “Manufacturers are tapping into the nation’s growing desire for a more natural lifestyle, as consumers take greater interest in what really goes into their food. The assumption is that it is better for you to avoid additives and preservatives, as many Brits are concerned about the effect they may have on their health. Many parents also worry about how some additives affect their children’s behavior.”
As The Times reported, Mintel’s findings were released just weeks after a Southampton University study confirming, for the first time, links between some additives and hyperactive behavior in children. The Food Standards Agency responded to the study by advising parents to read labels more carefully but, following criticism, is about to review that and consider recommending an official ban. One particular objection is based on the fact that many sweets and bakery items are sold loose and therefore without ingredient information.
But at least from the Mintel survey, it does appear that manufacturers are taking note and action without being forced to. As more people focus on lifestyle issues and the factors affecting them, there seems to be clear recognition that it may be best to keep food simple.
Questions: Do you see the ‘additive and preservative-free’ food movement as
a growing trend or another passing fad? Do you think this movement will hurt
demand for functional foods? How do you think retailers and brands should be
positioning themselves to capitalize on both opportunities?
- Food producers
respond to consumer pressure with ‘additive-free’ tags – The Times
- No More Mr Nasty – Specialty Food Magazine