As the consumer becomes more aware of the potential danger of packaged processed food which is both denuded of nutrients and loaded with added sugar, major US brands are scrambling to rejig their ingredients and present a different face to the newly-health-conscious customer.

Supermarkets and hypermarkets are seeing a steady decline in the sale of packaged processed food which does not showcase healthy features, and instead, are seeing a corresponding increase in demand for fresh products.

Surveys show that water is replacing soda, packaged orange juice is being perceived as a source of unnecessary free sugar when it is stripped of its natural fibers, and granola and yoghurt are replacing sugar-laden cereals. Fresh prepared food is the new preference, while McDonalds and other chains have been witnessing a steady decline in demand.

Among the food companies that are re-working their products is General Mills, which has announced that it will not use artificial colours and flavours in its cereals. Kraft too has said that it will not use artificial dyes in its iconic macaroni and cheese. Some well-known producers of meat products have already started limiting the use of antibiotics in the chicken, and Hershey’s says it will drop polyglycerol polyricinoleate, an emulsifier.

The big brands are also buying over companies that produce organic food and introducing new products to cater to changing consumer demands.

But is this too little too late?
The consensus is that the changes will have to be more than cosmetic. For instance, cutting out artificial dyes will not be enough for General Mills products to get back in favour – it will need to drastically reduce sugar content, and shift totally to wholegrain, while McDonalds could look at using locally sourced vegetables and grains.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com


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