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Calories and information overload

Published under fmcg , Hospitality , Nutrition
Written by Rachel Cristofoli

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My innate nosiness and an interest in all things food and drink, both healthy and unhealthy, are no doubt why I ended up in the job I did.  Researching food and drink products throughout the innovation funnel is basically what I do for a living and I love it. 

And it’s more important than ever for food and drink researchers like me and our team here at Market Measures to stay abreast of the latest trends in order to remain relevant to our clients’ businesses and their innovation potential.   But it gets harder and harder to keep up with everything that’s going on.   So, if it’s difficult for those of us with a professional as well as personal interest in our changing food landscape, then it got me thinking about how hard it has become for the average consumer (if such a consumer exists!)

There’s now access to so much (too much?) information about the state of our health, diet, lifestyle on one side of the coin, while on the flip side we’re given so many different messages about what we should or shouldn’t be putting in our mouths.  So who are we to believe?  The Government, the celebrity chef, the industry lobbyist, the food evangelist, the food manufacturer, the farmer … ?  The list goes on.

Is it any wonder the consumer is confused?  The latest addition of calories on menus has come under fire for lacking nuance and reducing food to a calories in calories out phenomenon. 

But how many of us really want to achieve some sort of health ‘nirvana’ anyway?  Is all this knowledge about our food preventing some us from actually enjoying it?  My teenage son said to me while we were eating a traditional home cooked Sunday roast (the best, and sometimes only, time a family conversation ever takes place).

“Sometimes you don’t want to know what it is you’re eating because it stops you from enjoying it, especially when it’s something that’s meant to be a treat”

He is unusually ‘food savvy’ for his age, but he has a point – he might be in a healthy minority but the ‘information overload’ as I see it has a huge impact all his food choices.  He is on the cusp of Gen Y and Z being born in 2000, and I wonder what relationship will his generation have with the food they choose (or are told to choose) to put in their mouths in the future?

One can’t help feeling that the balance is slowly ebbing away and that we are becoming a nation of extremes – just like the weather.  It would be nice to think that we could all eat and drink everything in moderation, but who’s to say what moderation is?  I’ve absolutely no doubt someone will.