Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Middle Way

The Middle Way

The Natural Marketing Institute released some interesting trends affecting our world and how we live. Bit by bit we have seen some new buzzwords coming out of the trenders. “Credit crunch couture”, “credit crunch cuisine”, “trading- down”, “down-scaling” and “cutting-back”. NMI describes this phenomenon as

With regards to health and wellness, the days of low fat this and full fat that, calorie counting and many other up or downs and more or less’s are shifting to more of a balanced life of moderation and less excesses.

The research indicates that consumers are seeking 'The Middle Way' which is a lifestyle approach grounded in comfort, safety, sustainability and moderation.

Wellness, energy, balanced eating, careful management of budgets and balanced energy is taking the space of dieting, fad lifestyles such as no carbs and also excessive indulgence. Instead of fixing a problem, consumers are looking to prevent getting sick, toxic, fat or tired. There is a certain discipline pervading all aspects of life.

Big changes are not being made but small manageable changes that together contribute to a more moderate and sustainable life. I think this is interesting in terms of food product development as we can perhaps not worry so much about the entire product being good for you, but rather make it better for you. It is a small step but one that perhaps consumers feel they can sustain.

With a return to a moderate life, old-fashioned value systems are becoming reference points. An awareness of the fast pace of life, technological dominance in our jobs and homes and the need to remain “down to earth” consumers are returning to old ways of cooking slowly and from scratch, gourmet travel holidays and eco-tourism.

Although consumers are more aware of community living and working with the world to create a better world, the personal needs and personal health need to be merged in the brands they are consuming. It is about me in the world, but the perception of my health is a reflection on the state of the world. An interesting one to interpret into food!!

Consumers can access almost any information and in the past the question “what” was asked, now it is “what and why”. Consumers want to know what the company policies are and how they make their products and where the raw materials come from. Our own “new” consumer protection bill is going to help consumers access this information or take to task should they not be happy. Consumers are more and more aware of what could make them ill or old as well as wanting to choose “the right way” from a principle point of view.

The good news is that “naturally beautiful” is being celebrated. Plastic surgery is no longer something to brag about. Looking your age and showing your naturally beauty and inner beauty is what real life is all about. I do have to wonder at this trend really playing itself out in Hollywood and in the magazines we all love to buy.

The rise of research into sugar alternatives and tea’s with less caffeine shows that consumers want to conserve their energy. The conservation of power and electricity is transferred to personal energy and they are realizing the days of quick fixes are over.

Buying less but buying better reflects a desire for products to have more meaning and more integrity. Artisan, provenance, old varietals and authenticity can be seen across almost all food categories.

So, how do we interpret this into our NPD for the next few years. Carefully, me thinks.

Reference: (

Friday, May 22, 2009

Donut Dilemma

There are days, especially when it is cold and rainy in Cape Town when I really feel like a Krispy Kreme donut. There are endless donuts available around town but none come close to the soft, melt in your mouth indulgence of the famous Krispy kreme. I have tried to understand how, with so many good donut benchmarks available to South African manufacturers that we cannot buy a good, and not "almost" stale donut in this country. Why is it that in the US they can get it right? I think it has something to do with the understanding of indulgence that Americans seem to have. it is that no compromise treat that seems to be respected and understoon. lets be honest, if you want a donut you are not going to look for a diet donut or a sugar free donut. You are looking to simply comfort your craving, get your sugar rush or dull that bad mood. It is interesting that Dunkin Donuts, who seem to be surviving the Credit Crunch better than Krispy Kreme have taken a new track and decided that they are going to stop pretending that the donut is healthy and market it for what it is. Check out this video about the success of the two brands and why perhaps Dunkin Donuts is more successful.

Go to and check out the video about Dunkin Donuts amazing competition they ran. I find this an interesting approach to product development when you are just stuck for what do to next. Perhaps Woolworths should ask their customers about what the next sandwich should be?

Back to donuts. I believe there is a huge opportunity and that South Africans could become a huge donut eating nation. We have to, however, get the product right in terms of taste, shelflife and deliciousness. Enough of the dreadful Pick n' Pay dough bombs!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


This is my first time blogging and have been wondering what to say. I suppose you will want to know what you can read about on this blog and what benefit you will get from visiting me everyweek.

I am part of the team responsible for driving innovation in the business I work for. We are South Africa's 3rd biggest food manufacturing company and produce some of SA's much loved products.

I am constantly looking for new ideas and trends that will drive our innovation and what i would like to do on this blog is talk about trends in food, retail food products that I discover and debate what we as consumers love to eat and need in our lives.

I am in bed sick today and am wishing that online shopping worked better in South Africa. I really don't feel like going to the shops today. Due to this lack of interest in shopping today, i am going to scrounge around and make a chicken soup. I believe, through folk lore chicken soup is a cure for the common cold. How I would love to have a fresh chicken stock in my cupboard, but other than expensive deli stock, no retailer stocks a fresh chicken or veg stock. Is it just me or is this not a fantastic product idea. If you have a good stock all you need is to throw some meat, veg and potatoes in a pot and make a hotpot, soup or stew. The stock, really is the base to delicious food, but it is such a mission to make oneself.

So that is me and once I am better I hope I can talk about some of the hot new food trends and how they will influence how we shop and eat.