Have you ever felt like a fish out of water? It’s that terrifying feeling when you think you see things through a completely different lens from everyone else. “Am I wrong” is often the thought, “or even worse, mad?”
So, it is a huge relief when a fish out of water comes across other fish with similar views on things. That was exactly my feeling when reading a post by Kara Landau on LinkedIn earlier this year. Kara popped on to my radar with the launch of a new product called Daily Uplifter, that’s designed to optimise gut health and mood, through the company she founded, Uplift Food. She is also a trained dietitian (we share the same profession) and expert in digestive health. In other words, Kara knows her stuff.
Gut health is a hot topic and is likely to be around for some time given its broad influence on health and wide application potential. Transparency Market Research predicts the global market for digestive health will grow 3.9% year-on-year to US$83.5 billion by 2022. Gut health complaints are already common among the public, with many manipulating what they eat in an attempt to feel better.
Back to Kara’s post. In this she expresses frustration at the disingenuous actions of her competitors in the gut health space. Adding one “gut health” ingredient among several “gut degrading” ingredients, such as maltodextrin and sucralose, is example of this. In other words, these negating ingredients counteract the effect of the positive gut health ingredient to compromise the efficacy of the whole product. I hear her. Just last year, I listened to a product developer from one of Australasia’s major food companies, discuss their work on adding probiotics to white bread – feeling like that fish out of water, I sat in silence pondering if the recipe included resistant starch, if the probiotics would withstand the baking process, and how this product might fit with dietary recommendations?
It’s not just in the gut health area that this is a problem. It is happening across the board. All too often products are formulated in a way that does not match the health and nutrition proposition on offer and the consumer, who is often paying a premium for the supposed benefit, does not have a clue. Lack of trust is already an issue for the food industry and the public increasingly want to know about the food they are eating – where it has come from, what’s in it and what is the science behind it? A more thorough and honest approach with evidence to support, is needed to foster this trust.
If you are a food business developing or selling a product with a health and nutrition proposition, here’s what I think you should do:
- Make sure you have someone on your product development team who can research and interpret the relevant health and nutrition science.
- Design and market the product according to scientific evidence, dietary guidelines, regulatory requirements, as well as its consumer appeal.
- Think of food regulations as the bare minimum, not the gold standard.
- Ensure you have the evidence to support your product’s position and what you say about it.
A good dose of science will go a long way to establish your credibility, consumer’s trust in your brand and their loyalty towards it. Don’t forget to consider your customer’s interests as well as your own.