June 22, 2015
What You Need to Know About Artificial Ingredients
Restaurants and food-packaging companies in the United States have recently begun to "feel the heat" when it comes to artificial ingredients. The trends of food blogging and eating more natural, healthy, and organic foods have really taken off as diets such as Eat This, Not That have taken flight and gained in popularity. The popularity of healthy foods and limited ingredients seems to be here to stay, and the food industry is taking big strides to cater to the consumers" needs.
This trend in health-conscious eating is not as simple as it may seem, however, for those in the food-manufacturing business. At first glance, one would think that reducing extraneous ingredients would save a company money. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Papa John"s, for instance, has pledged to reduce additives and completely remove MSG from some of its items. This simple-sounding process will end up costing the company $100 million each year, a cost that is mostly aimed at purging ingredients from its dipping sauces. If the company chose to do the same for its meats and cheeses, you could imagine this price skyrocketing.
In order to make such a drastic change, food manufacturers have to come up with entirely new recipes, some of which may even compromise the taste of their products. Shelf life also can be affected, leading to more food waste and higher costs from the suppliers for franchisee owners. These new recipes will, of course, require new processing procedures and in some cases will rely on new equipment, training, and so forth, all of which adds to a company"s bottom line and the eventual increase in food pricing.
Another consideration is food safety. Whenever a recipe is changed or a process is revised, making sure the consumer is safe is a key concern. Trademarks for recipes need to be updated as well to ensure brand integrity. And a simple change in formula for a product from a food manufacturer that services a major restaurant chain, such as McDonald"s, requires training for a whole slew of employees. It also mandates new documentation, training supplies and materials, and much more.
Most major restaurants and fast food chains are aiming to reduce artificial ingredients by 2017, and many have already taken significant leaps. Panera Bread, for example, has already released a "No No List" that includes around 150 ingredients that it will do away with, and Chipotle recently became the first national chain to go non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) in their restaurants.
While consumer demand is the main reason behind this movement, odds are good that the average customer has no clue about the amount of work food manufacturers have to put into making this trend a reality or the toll it will have on a company"s bottom line. These costs will, no doubt, eventually show up in the price of food, but foodies can just chalk that up to the price of healthy living!