retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal has a story about how, at General Mills, "researchers are responding to Americans increasingly rejecting artificial flavorings, dyes, and preservatives and demanding food with ingredients that they can find in their own pantries."

In this case, it means getting rid of certain colors that used to be used in Trix cereals. But the same kinds of decisions, the story says, are being made at companies that include Kraft, Hershey, and Kellogg.

Full disclosure: Kellogg is a valued MNB sponsor.

"The phenomenon has roiled the food industry in recent years as reconstructing recipes, especially of packaged-food items, isn't a piece of cake. It requires consumer food companies to find acceptable alternatives and to manage any side effects, from higher costs to unintended changes to taste or texture that could risk alienating loyal consumers.

"The new environment is frustrating for some in the food industry after decades of technological advances to make packaged food cheaper, longer lasting and more flavorful."
KC's View:
One consultant tells the Journal that one of the reasons manufacturers have to do this is that they have failed to "push back" against consumer perceptions that artificial is always bad. I would argue that "pushing back" is the wrong approach, largely because it comes too late.

Companies that educate customers, are transparent with customers, and that respect customers, are the ones that don't need to push back because they've created a relationship all along. "Pushing back" implies an adversarial, or at least skeptical, relationship ... and that's never a good place to be.