Living up to societal expectations: Storytelling and sustainability “increasingly captivate” today’s consumers
“Upcycling is the new recycling” and “the demand for naturalness runs throughout society,” industry notes
06 Nov 2019 --- Clean label, health and wellbeing are key drivers influencing what global consumers purchase and consume. But just as important are societal, ethical and environmental factors, alongside transparency. More consumers than ever before are directly concerned with precisely what they are eating, where it comes from and the journey the ingredients and end product made before ending up on retail shelves. As a result, the food and beverage industry continues to go through somewhat of a disruptive transformation to keep pace with these increasingly important demands.
Interconnected to this is the fact that consumers are increasingly captivated by the stories behind their food and beverage products. This phenomenon holds notable influence on purchasing decisions and has resulted in companies increasingly paying attention to storytelling in branding strategies. “Storytelling: Winning with Words” tops Innova Market Insights’ upcoming Top Ten Trends list for 2020, as the market researcher underscores a growing consumer affinity for products backed by a compelling narrative.
Sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are helping drive this trend, notes Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights.
“We know that different generational cohorts care about different aspects. For example, Millennials care about social causes and now we see every coffee shop promoting some kind of social or ethical cause. Gen X cares about food waste and we see a lot of stories about this as well,” Williams outlines.
Innova Market Insights also tips “The Sustain Domain” as it’s number three trend for 2020, echoing the notion that consumers increasingly expect companies to invest in sustainability. Its research indicated that 85 percent of, on average, US and UK consumers expect companies to invest in sustainability in 2019, up from 64 percent in 2018. In the area of food waste, upcycling is the new recycling, as companies strive to follow a zero-waste approach by creating value from by-products. Meanwhile, in packaging, the focus is on using less of it, as well as developing sustainable alternatives.
Using waste streams to create value
The sustainability drive is also prompting pioneering start-ups to offer products with more sustainable alternatives derived from waste streams. One example comes from a Scottish firm specializing in high-value products derived from used coffee grounds. Revive Eco Ltd claims it is developing pioneering environmentally-efficient processes that could lead to a sustainable and alternative ingredient to palm oil. The potentially “game-changing” concept comes as some manufacturers are under pressure to find alternatives to palm oil and more ethically-driven consumers turn their backs on the controversial ingredient.
“The key components making up the oils we can extract from the coffee grounds are the same as those which make up palm oil, meaning we can offer industries a more sustainable, locally-sourced alternative, while not having to compromise on the quality or effectiveness of the ingredients they are using in their products,” Scott Kennedy, Co-Founder of Revive, tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “Giving businesses, and therefore consumers, more sustainable alternatives to the materials they currently use is something we are on our way to achieving,” he notes.
Coffee grounds, as with many other waste streams, possess huge natural value, and thus fit in naturally with the general shift towards various sectors within the food and beverage industry becoming more circular. “The coffee industry is definitely shifting, with more of a focus being placed on sustainable coffee, as well as initiatives to get rid of things such as single-use coffee cups,” Kennedy explains.
Sustainability and the clean label evolution
Consumers’ concerns about ingredients continue to drive the clean label trend in food and drink, notes Lactalis Ingredients. It says consumers are looking for products that are both tasty and healthy as well as pay attention to heavily processed ingredients, noting that dairy proteins can help manufacturers to formulate products with short ingredient lists, in yogurt or desserts for example. Thanks to their functionality, dairy proteins can be used to replace additives and deliver a natural image to the products. Beyond their functionality, dairy proteins also have a high nutritional value that resonates positively with consumers' expectations for healthier products.
Jean-Luc Bordeau, General Manager of Lactalis Ingredients, tells FoodIngredientsFirst how the dairy ingredients manufacturer enhances the value of milk by exploring the unique and irreplaceable natural nutritional wealth of milk. In recent years, the valorization of milk has improved significantly thanks to the development of technologies, particularly milk cracking, and now it’s possible to create more and more added-value ingredients.
“Lactalis Ingredient’s innovative treatment of whey has elevated the material from a so-called ‘by-product’ to co-product status. Technological developments have allowed for the isolation and extraction of specific constituents of nutritional interest, making whey more valuable, useful, and marketable. These technological advances allow us to have more functional ingredients, especially proteins. Dairy proteins are fully in line with the growing trend for clean label products and can be a more natural and healthy alternative to heavily processed ingredients,” he explains.
Lactalis has always been sensitive to the major social and societal issues affecting its business, Bordeau notes, and the company is making progress on all aspects. Company leaders encourage departments to evaluate, identify initiatives and determine areas for improvement. The objective is to put the Lactalis Ingredients’ operational excellence and its culture of efficiency and pragmatism at the service of CSR challenges.
“Many CSR indicators have been monitored for a long time, especially in terms of safety and in the environmental field, such as water and energy consumption, optimization of transport flows and the reduction of material losses. Our objective is now to set targets for each issue. We are currently working on the subject with the aim of publishing a first CSR report in 2020,” Bordeau comments.
Elodie Macariou, Senior Product Manager in charge of the coordination of Lactalis Ingredients CSR Working Group, adds how the company is also updating its milk supply charter called “CAP sur l’avenir” (The Future ahead of us). She explains that the new version of Lactalis charter will include additional environmental and animal welfare criteria. The Lactalis Group is currently building a set of tools to measure animal welfare on its French collected dairy farms, and to define commitment targets and their respective timeline for their full achievement.
Delivering sustainable dairy ingredients will be the next challenge, says Macariou.
Many consumers buy organic products because they think it is better for the environment than conventional products. “Organic dairy ingredients are therefore an opportunity,” she notes.
“There is also a demand for naturalness that runs throughout society,” Macariou affirms. “Grass-fed dairy ingredients meet this demand. Lactalis has always favored a grass-based diet with cows on pasture and incentivized farmers to favor ancient roots and grains such as lupin, flaxseed, faba bean, pea andcanola, to prevent soil depletion and declining soil fertility as well as reducing methane-gas emission.”
By Gaynor Selby
To contact our editorial team please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.