Social conscience is changing the offerings of international supermarket chains, and now that trend is certain to arrive here, writes Sarah Connelly, director, Product of the Year Australia.
As we follow the trends from our European and American counterparts, one of the interesting developments in supermarkets to emerge recently is the “Conscious Consumer”.
Many consumers are searching for healthier alternatives, less processed and packaged foods and the number of people looking for ethical and sustainable farming and production practices are rising.
The conscious consumer is looking for natural ingredients, simply prepared that are fresh and ready to eat. They want their food packaged in an eco-friendly way with renewable materials. They don’t want unsustainable or cruel farming practices, and they want the producers to be compensated.
There have been a number of fascinating examples which are emerging from a number of international companies, and it is only a matter of time before the trends will reach us here.
In the UK, supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has begun stocking the first ethical “grown by women” coffee to hit mainstream shelves to support the International Women’s Day and the Fairtrade Fortnight. The fully-traceable Kopakama Coffee offers a premium to support women growers in Rwanda.
Across the channel in France, “Quality & Origin” is the core of Carrefour’s fresh produce offering with sustainable policy, locally-sourced products, quality rigorously checked for traceability and taste, environmentally-friendly farming.
One of the big causes to be shared and commented upon in social media is palm oil and the ethical issues of deforestation in Asia and Africa.
Brussels-based Delhaize Group, parent company of Delhaize America, said it updated its policy on responsible palm oil sourcing and its commitment to source only traceable, no-deforestation palm oil for its private label products.
Other companies have announced they will also source palm oil from traceable sources include Mars Confectionary and Nestle, as well as health giant Procter and Gamble,
In the Netherlands, Lidl is trying to set new and fairer production standards and has asked the Dutch Fair Produce Foundation to help develop a label for asparagus and strawberries. The branding guarantees good working conditions and wages for producers
And in the USA, Carlisle, Pa., announced that it received Rainforest Alliance certification for its Simply Enjoy teas and UTZ certification
As our society is proliferated with social media, consumers are more connected than ever – meaning they way manufacturers and retailers communicate with their customers is changing and evolving rapidly. Examples of poor production or quality can go viral via social media incredibly quickly, leaving companies scrambling to protect their brand and market position.
With canny consumers and their increasing demands for high quality, affordable products it is crucial manufacturers respond with innovation which truly meets their needs.