There is a lot of scary stuff out in this crazy world we live in. I'm going to take a moment today to share some quotes from a recent New York Times exposé on North America's food industry. The comments that struck me the hardest were those of a General Mill's representative at a 1999 meeting where food industry leaders from all of the top selling brands refused to decide upon changes to the ingredients of their most popular products despite their own personal admissions and concerns about the real threat of obesity and ill-health among consumers. "But we are in Canada Ben, we have better regulations". Well unfortunately it doesn't work like this.
Article February 20th, 2013
"Under his leadership, General Mills had overtaken not just the cereal aisle but other sections of the grocery store. The company’s Yoplait brand had transformed traditional unsweetened breakfast yogurt into a veritable dessert. It now had twice as much sugar per serving as General Mills’ marshmallow cereal Lucky Charms. And yet, because of yogurt’s well-tended image as a wholesome snack, sales of Yoplait were soaring, with annual revenue topping $500 million. Emboldened by the success, the company’s development wing pushed even harder, inventing a Yoplait variation that came in a squeezable tube — perfect for kids. They called it Go-Gurt and rolled it out nationally in the weeks before the C.E.O. meeting. (By year’s end, it would hit $100 million in sales.)
According to the sources I spoke with, Sanger began by reminding the group that consumers were “fickle.” (Sanger declined to be interviewed.) Sometimes they worried about sugar, other times fat. General Mills, he said, acted responsibly to both the public and shareholders by offering products to satisfy dieters and other concerned shoppers, from low sugar to added whole grains. But most often, he said, people bought what they liked, and they liked what tasted good. “Don’t talk to me about nutrition,” he reportedly said, taking on the voice of the typical consumer. “Talk to me about taste, and if this stuff tastes better, don’t run around trying to sell stuff that doesn’t taste good.”
There are a lot of different articles as a part of this piece, most notably the first section on the rise of Lunchables. It is a big read but it is empowering. Enjoy my friends.
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