Haagen-Dazs's new line of ice cream, Five, doesn't hide the ingredients
in tiny type on the back of the carton. Ever=y one -- milk, cream,
sugar, eggs and vanilla bean -- is prominently displayed in
bright-orange capital letters. The fact that the brand's regular
vanilla bean ice cream also has just five ingredients is beside the
poin t. Food marketers have come to realize that simplicity sells.
Advocates for healthful eating have long tried to steer Americans
away from highly processed foods that contain dozens of unnatural and
unpronounceable ingredients. Now, driven by a drumbeat of food recalls
-- ground beef, peanuts and, most recently, pistachios -- consumers may
be more inclined to heed the call.
Last week, Snapple Beverage unveiled a reformulated line of drinks
and an eight-figure marketing campaign emphasizing that its iced teas
are made from green and black tea and "real" sugar. Frito-Lay is
boasting that its potato chips, tortilla chips and even Fritos are each
made with just three ingredients. The hope: that consumers will equate
fewer ingredients with healthfulness, even when it comes to ice cream
"It's a convergence of health, food safety, taste and traceability,"
said Phil Lempert, a food and consumer behavior analyst who calls
himself the Supermarket Guru. "People are reading labels more carefully
than they were previously. When they pick up a product and it has 30
ingredients and they don't know what half of them are, they are putting
it back on the shelves."
The message of simplicity and purity is just the latest in a long
line of marketing strategies employed by food manufacturers. In the
1980s, product labels trumpeted low-fat credentials. In the 1990s, even
packages of bread crowed about low levels of carbohydrates. "We've
reduced fat and calories; that's reductive," said Aurora Gonzalez, a
Frito-Lay spokeswoman. "Now we look at how can we add pluses. Whole
grains are a good example of that. Another part that is complementary
is the simplicity of ingredients."
On one hand, the move is a victory for those who have long preached
the glory of simple, less processed foods. In his best-selling book "In
Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" (Penguin, 2008), Michael Pollan
writes that the first rule is to avoid any food products with more than
five ingredients and those that contain unfamiliar ingredients (or
high-fructose corn syrup).
But such advice was not meant to suggest that anything that contains
a large number of ingredients is bad. A home-cooked stew or a Spanish
paella, for example, has dozens of ingredients but is what Pollan and
others deem "real" food. Sugar, in contrast, is just one ingredient but
can be harmful in large quantities.
"It is better that the food be simpler than more complex," Pollan
said in an interview. "On the other hand, this is another case of food
manufacturers reformulating to reflect whatever the latest critique of
their food is and turning what it is a criticism into a marketing
strategy to sell more food."
Five is not a great departure for Haagen-Dazs, which has always
catered to consumers who value high-quality ingredients. But it
approaches the message in a new way, stressing wholesomeness and purity
over indulgence. Read the rest....
Source: Jane Black,Washington Post