The Era Of Food Enlightenment

It’s taken over a half century, but I think we may be entering into a new era of food enlightenment. A time when farming, manufacturing, and logistics scale are being combined with organic, sustainable, and transparent. Where convenience and cost are working with, not against, healthy and right. From CPG companies to fast food chains, this renaissance is exciting to witness, and I believe we will look back at the 20-teens as the time when we returned to “old-fashioned” ... for the better. 

If you look at product innovation and brand development in the CPG and fast-food sectors all signs point to this trend. Whether it’s the rise of new brands such as Plum Organics, Kind Bars, Applegate, or Chipotle, or the re-development of existing brands such as Beech-Nut, Kraft Mac-n-Cheese, and Taco Bell, product developers and marketers have tapped into a prevailing trend: consumers want food that is real and as simply produced as possible.



Have you ever added ascorbic acid to your food? Probably not; it’s a great food antioxidant, but it isn’t something that you have sitting in your pantry. And would you spray chemicals all over the vegetable garden at your local elementary school? Once again, probably not, it just doesn’t pass the “common sense” test. That’s why food brands are changing their ways.

Take for example Beech-Nut. A well-established brand, with decades of baby food heritage, Beech-Nut recently re-imagined its baby products; from ingredients, to packaging, to recipes, to transparency. They realized that while mothers are looking for convenience, they aren’t willing to sacrifice knowing exactly what is going into their baby’s body. Beech-Nut changed its approach and, according to Andy Dahlen, VP of marketing and sales, the universally positive comments on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are evidence of its success.

But why now? Are we at a tipping point? I think the answer is yes, and I believe it’s being driven by the ever-increasing influence of Millennials. Unlike other generational cohorts, Millennials have different brand values, especially when it comes to food. They’ve grown up with Earth Day and curb-side recycling. They are focused on the added benefits that food can deliver, obsessed with immediacy and “freshness,” driven by “healthy,” and demand full disclosure with respect to labels and ingredients. By embracing these values and tapping into “real” and “simple,” brands have the opportunity to perform like category innovators and capture this massive, future growth opportunity.

2 comments about "The Era Of Food Enlightenment".
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  1. Mark Mellynchuk from BDC Inc, June 3, 2015 at 10:56 a.m.

    Actually, I add ascorbic acid to my food all the time, in the form of lime juice.  It adds a delightful flavor to my guacamole and assists in keeping it a lovely green color.
    Just because something doesn't "sound" natural doesn't mean it's an "evil chemical":

    ascorbic acid (noun) - a vitamin found particularly in citrus fruits and green vegetables. It is essential in maintaining healthy connective tissue, and is also thought to act as an antioxidant. Severe deficiency causes scurvy. Also called vitamin C.


  2. Scott Jones from JLL Technologies, June 3, 2015 at 12:01 p.m.

    Mark, thanks for the comment. I also use citrus juices in my food, but I've never added just ascorbic acid...and that's the point. Lime juice is much more complex than just ascorbic acid. In fact, lime juice actually contains more calcium and potassium than ascorbic acid. If a producer of guacamole is keeping things real and simple, then they would add lime juice to their recipe and label, not just ascorbic acid. And just an's a great post from a chemistry teacher in Australia, named James Kennedy, about the chemical in eggs, bananas, and blueberries.

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