The ‘secret recipe’ behind many blockbuster food and drink products is a blend of universally appealing flavours, topped off with a multimillion dollar branding campaign.
But not even the most lavish marketing in the world will convince food shoppers to splash out on bland, unappetising fare.
Although society has finally woken up to the unhealthy consequences of eating full-fat versions of its favourite foods, most still expect the alternatives to taste just as good as the original at no extra cost.
That all points to some very big challenges for food & drink manufacturers.
So how does a company go about taking a flagship product and making it fit this seemingly impossible bill?
Kraft Heinz believes it scored such a victory when it conducted “the largest blind taste test in history”. This experiment involved secretly switching its US ‘Mac & Cheese’ to a healthier version with only natural ingredients, and only going public about it months after the fact.
Coca-Cola has taken the opposite approach with its recent big-bang announcement to reformulate and rebrand its Zero product, even throwing an additional £10 million into a marketing campaign to persuade us to choose the sugar-free version of its popular beverages.
Let us raise our glasses to the opportunities for innovation this more health conscious era of food production has ushered in
Not only that, but it also promises the new Coca-Cola Zero Sugar product will taste even more like the original Coca-Cola.
The jury is still out on whether it will manage to convert hard-core coke drinkers to its sugar-free varieties, but such opportunities to tap into the growing ranks of health conscious consumers are not the sole preserve of Big Food.
In our cover story, industry experts point out that smaller food and drink manufacturers are, in many ways, better positioned to react rapidly to these trends, with very real opportunities to produce reformulated healthier versions of blockbuster food and beverage brands.
Although it won’t be apparent for some time whether this explosion of ‘nutritious’ alternatives will make any real mark on our long-term wellbeing, let us raise our glasses to the opportunities for innovation this more health conscious era of food production has ushered in.