Friday, November 30, 2007
Food and beverage trends 2008: A Natural~Specialty year is on the way
Natural, organic, specialty, gourmet, premium, fresh, healthy, green and sustainable top the list
If the various market and consumer researchers, prognosticators and analysts (including us) are right, 2008 will be a natural~specialty year in terms of the top hot trends in food and beverage marketing and consumption in the U.S. and Western Europe.
For example, a just released report by market research firm Datamonitor predicts the following top ten food and beverage trends for 2008.
>Probiotics, healthy foods
>Natural and organic foods and beverages, especially for kids
>Fresh foods, especially premium quality prepared foods
>Exotic foods, especially foods from Africa
>Specialty foods that promote sleep and stress relief
>Healthy and natural foods with "crunchy" and "crispy" taste profiles
>Bold, hot and spicy foods
>Increased use of caffeine in beverages and foods
>Green, "eco-friendly" foods, beverages and grocery products
You can read a detailed summary describing these top 10 food and beverage trends for 2008 here, along with examples of numerous food and beverage products in these categories introduced this year that Datamonitor has tracked, and which point to strong growth for next year. You also can read a short piece summarizing Datamonitor's top ten food and beverage trends for 2008 published yesterday in Beverage Daily here.
As the Datamonitor report shows, the top ten food and beverage trends for next year all center around the natural/organic, specialty/premium, healthy/environmental sector. As we suggest here often, these categories (an consumer movements) are related and have strong synergies between them They're also increasingly converging together.
For example, natural and organic foods consumers tend to also be "greener" consumers. They also focus more on healthy eating and are most likely to be early adapters to foods and beverages like probiotics and superfruits, for example. Additionally, there's a growing convergence between specialty and premium foods and natural/organic foods consumers--and marketing. These consumers share a concern for quality. More and more, quality in terms of food and beverage products is meaning all-natural or organic as well, in addition to the elimination of food additives, preservatives and artificial coloring.
This "healthy" convergence is demonstrated by an emphasis on the part of specialty foods manufacturers and retailers (store brands) to introduce more and more new products that have natural or organic attributes as well as being premium quality. By the same token, natural foods manufacturers and retailers are increasingly going premium with their new natural and organic food and beverage products.
In fact, a new study from market researcher Mintel says the top food and beverage trend for 2008 will be "getting the junk out of food and beverage products." In other words it's the elimination of preservatives, additives, artificial flavorings and colorings and other such ingredients in their existing products, as well as not putting them in new products introduced in the majority of cases that will be a key event in the food industry beginning next year. This isn't to say food and beverages with these artificial ingredients are going away anytime soon. Rather, Mintel says there will be a rapid decline in their use beginning in 2008.
This junk-free food and beverage movement has been picking up steam in the U.S. and Western Europe, and dovetails with the natural, organic, green and sustainable consumer movements. The definition of healthy is being expanded we believe to include not only what is in food but how and where it's grown, packaged and tastes. In other words, healthy not only means a healthy person, but a healthy environment as well. It's becoming an external as well as internal definition. You can read about the Mintel 2008 food and beverage trend study in more detail here.
As we mentioned above, taste is a key factor--and premium taste is one of the hottest trends for 2008, according to a new study from Packaged Facts and Trendwatching.com.
A new study from market research firm packaged facts says sales of specialty and gourmet foods are predicted to grow by a whopping 63% over the next five years. This consumer flight to premium quality foods is being driven by a number of factors, according to the researcher. These factors include consumers' becoming more sophisticated via travel and multiculturalism, retailers carrying expanded selections of specialty, gourmet and ethnic foods, and a convergence between specialty, natural and organic foods.
This growing consumer sophistication and the availabilty of a wide variety of specialty, gourmet and ethnic foods, not only in specialty stores and supermarkets, but in natural foods stores, mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart and Target, online, and even in drug stores, is growing the premium foods market to the point that Packaged Facts predicts it will grow to $96 billion annually in five years, compared to the categories current sales of $59 billion. (You can read more about the Packaged Facts' specialty and gourmet food and beverage report here.)
Packaged Facts isn't the only consumer research firm to predict this huge growth in the specialty, gourmet and premium food and beverage categories. (We use all three of these terms because each has certain distinctions. However, from a sales standpoint, they are one category.) Trendwatching.com, a consumer products trend analysis firm and website, is predicting 2008 will be the year for the "premiumization" of nearly everything and anything, including food, grocery and beverage products. By this, the firm means virtually no product category will escape having some sort of premium version.
"Premiumization" is one of the consumer research firm's top 8 trends for 2008, along with what it calls status spheres, snack culture, online oxygen, brand butlers, crowd mining, MIY (make it yourself) and eco-iconic. (you can read more about these seven other trends here.)
In terms of the food and beverage industries, "premiumization" means an increasing trading up by consumers to more premium-quality products. It also means food and beverage manufacturers, marketers and retailers will not only continue their current rapid pace of premium specialty and gourmet foods new product introductions, but will excellerate it even more.
Trendwatching.com also says we'll see niche "premiumization" in the food and beverage sectors. For example, limited addition super-premium food and beverage products like deserts and bottled waters, will be introduced in very upscale packaging and for a limited period of time.
As examples, they sight Evian's new, limited release Palace bottled water. Set to be introduced either at the end of this year or early in 2008, the water will only be available for sale at high-end bars and restaurants. The sleek bottle features a specially designed pouring top and comes with a stainless steel coaster. It will sell for between $15-$20 (USA) per bottle.
Other super-premium bottled waters include Bling H20. Bling water comes in a frosted glass-bottle with a cork that's embellished with crystals. The water is a much a personal accessory as it is a beverage. It's big with the Hollywood crowd, and was featured backstage at the MTV awards and the Emmy's this year.
If the first two bottled waters aren't premium enough for you, there's Tasmanian Rain. This utra-premium water comes from the pristine north coast of the Australian island of Tasmania. According to the bottlers, the water comes from a spot where the World Meteorological Organization records the world's purest air.
Beer also is getting "premiumization" treatment. This summer, Carlsburg launched its Carlsburg 900 in a limited number of bars in Stockholm, Sweden. The brew is made with refined virgin hops, selected crystal malt, and is triple filtered in a special process that ensures a pure, delicate taste, the brewer says. Carlsberg 900 also is priced at the premium end of the price range. A bottle costs about the same as a class of quality champagne.
Trendwatching.com also sights some premium foods as an example of niche categories that are undergoing the "premiumization" process. Chief among these are marshmallows. Dean & Delucca's gourmet Boule' Marshmallows come in such flavors as passion fruit, lemon chiffon, pure vanilla and rose petal. They retail for $28 a bag--and it's not a very big bag. Another gourmet foods maker, Pete's Gourmet, sells premium flavored and dipped marshmallows for $1 each. Dean & Delucca recently reported that in its stores and on its website the pricey gourmet marshmallows are selling out.
Honey's and chocolates are two other categories the consumer research firm says also are getting "premiumized" in a big way. Foods and beverages lead this "premiumization" trend, according to Trendwatching.com. Of course, we see this daily in nearly every food category in the supermarket. Retailers are aiding this trend by creating store brand specialty, gourmet and premium foods and pricing them more reasonably than manufacturer brands, thus expanding the market for these goods into the moderate income sector.
Fresh foods also are getting the "premiumization" treatment. Whether it's in-store fresh prepared foods at grocers like Whole Foods, Wegman's, Safeway Stores and others, or manufacturer-produced fresh and frozen entrees, the trend is towards premium quality. Tesco's entry into the U.S. market with it's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets also is fueling the growth of fresh, prepared foods marketing and sales. The retailer is offering scores of fresh, prepared foods at its Fresh & Easy stores in California and Nevada (13 open so far). The grocer plans to have at least 200 stores open in the next two years, and all will offer extensive selections of premium prepared foods.
As we end 2007 and move into 2008, our analysis tells us the hot button trends and consumer movements will be: natural and organics. The categories will continue their rapid growth. However, we see retail prices on organics coming down at least 5% as retailers like Safeway, Kroger and others continue to expand and grow their store brand organic grocery lines.
Specialty, gourmet and ethnic foods. As the research discussed in this piece demonstrates, category growth will be huge. We also see an increasing number of large, multi-national packaged goods companies getting deeper into specialty foods marketing. Major companies like Kraft, Heinz, General Mills and others will move upscale with line extensions and even new brands.
Ethical consumers and marketing is a growing trend, and it will continue to grow in the years ahead. Consumers increasingly want to know how and where their foods are produced. They also want to know the corporate behavior of the companies that produce their foods. It's a small movement at present, but will grow bigger in the next five years.
Local food sourcing also will continue to grow. However, consumers love imported foods too much to give them up. Therefore, in the main, locavores (those who only eat foods produced within a 100 miles of where they live) will remain a small, minority movement. However, more and more consumers will buy local foods whenever they can, making it an important movement and marketing concept for food marketers, retailers, consumers and small farmers.
Green issues will begin to move into the mainstream in a big way in 2008. More and more consumers will demand sustainability from food producers, marketers and retailers. The industry will respond, led by key players like Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Safeway, Tesco and others on the retail end. On the supply side, companies like Proctor & Gamble, Clorox, Hain-Celestial and others will move further with their green initiatives, setting an example for others in their industry to follow.
Healthy foods, especially foods containing new natural ingredient innovations, will continue to be a major hot button. We are beginning to see healthier foods positioning throughout the supermarket, from the dairy case to the snack aisle. This will intensify, and grocers will get more involved in their customers health issues by putting health and wellness clinics in-store, increasing the quality and quantity of health labeling information, and even demanding their suppliers produce healthier products.
As we said at the beginning of this piece, there's a synergy between these top trends for 2008. That synergy is the growing convergence between the natural and specialty foods industries, and the growing consumer movement towards eating healthier and defining healthy as not only something internal but external (the environment). Within this mix, taste is key. Consumers won't trade off healthy and "green" for quality anymore. In fact, they want premium quality taste along with the natural, organic, healthy and green attributes in their foods---and from their food producers and retailers.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Coppola's wines-by-the-glass and mini sparklers: A wine offering 'you can't refuse'
Francis Ford Coppola Rosso (Cabernet Sauvignon) and Bianco (Pinot Grigio) wines-by-the-glass.
The ready-to-drink wines are designed to be popped open at events or at home when only a glass of wine is desired, rather than having the bottle go to waste or have to be refrigerated. As we all know, white wine never taste's as good after being opened and refrigerated. And in the case of red wine, the unfinished bottle has to sit out with the cork in it. The result: the wines' usually end up getting pured down the drain after a couple days.
There currently are five wine varieties available under the Clif Bar brand. There's the 2006 vintage Climber, a white wine blend; the Climber 2006, a red wine made from North coast-grown grapes; Kit's Killer Cab (named after Crawford), which is a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvigon; Gary's Improv (named after Erikson), which is a 2003 vintage Napa Valley Meritage; and lastly there's a 2004 Napa Valley Syrah. It has no special name like the others. Erikson is a mountain climber, which is where the first two wines get the inspiration for their names.
This year's top ten is a who's who of media whores. Coming in at number one is Donald Trump, followed by Paris Hilton and Fox News host Bill O' Reilly. After the top three, fourth place honors go to Rosie O' Donnell, actor Tom Cruise, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, British spice girl turned Beverly Hills professional shopper Victoria Beckham, supermodel turned talk show host Tyra Banks, rap star and activist Kanye West, and last but not least, chairwoman of the "I hate underwear" club Britney Spears.
Whole Foods' new Market Bistro, like the one pictured above in its Potrero Hill store in San Francisco, is a combination restaurant and wine bar. The grocer is placing Market Bistros in most of its new stores.
Organic wines at top of trends list: Organic wines, along with craft beers and signature cocktails, top the list of top restaurant beverage trends in the just released National Restaurant Association annual beverage trends survey. The survey of over 1,000 professional chefs found alcoholic beverages are among the hottest culinary trends in restaurants in the U.S. currently. the professional chefs, all members of the American culinary Federation ranked craft beers as the hottest trend, followed by energy drink cocktails, martini's, mojitos, artisan liquors, organic wine and specialty beers in the top 20 culinary trends for 2007-2008.
Organic wines aren't just popular diner drink choices. The chefs said they're using the wines in various innovative culinary ways. For example, the chefs said they are using organic wines (as well as other premium wines) in deglazing, reduction and sauce preparation. They also are using the wines to prepare wine-flavored ice teas. The most popular wine varieties for these interesting drinks are Chardonay, Cabernet and Merlot. Food and wine pairings are a growing trend the chefs say, and with the fast-growing popularity of organic foods, the organic wines are becoming popular for organic food and wine pairing events. Fruit-flavored and rose/blush wines also are hot say the chefs.
The growing popularity of organic wines at restaurants mirrors their growing popularity at retail. This trend also dovetails with the growing "mainstreaming" of organic foods and the sustainable, buy local and "green" food movements. In fact, the survey also identified what the chefs say are the hot food trends in their restaurants. At the top of the list are organic foods, local produce, sustainable seafood, grass-fed beef and free-range meats and poultry of all types.
A&P buys wine merchant as way to upscale wine merchandising: The A&P supermarket chain has decided to pursue an interesting strategy to grow it's wine merchandising capabilities. The supermarket chain has acquired Best Sellers, a New York City wine merchant/retailer famous for its Great Wines for Everyday Merchandising strategy. That strategy focuses on selling wines by flavor rather than origin, and does so at reasonable prices.
Joshua Wesson, Best Seller's co-founder and a wine expert, will join A&P as the grocer's director of beer, wine and spirits. Best Sellers has five retail locations. A&P says it plans to keep all the stores located in its core market, which is all but one which is located in Boston. That store will be sold. The larger strategy however isn't operating the Best Sellers stores as much as it is bringing the wine merchant's merchandising strategy, and Wesson's expertise, into A&P. The grocer will use this new talent to revamp the wine, beer and spirits selections in its stores using the Great Wines for Everyday Merchandising philosophy.
A&P has been revamping its food merchandising, moving from a conventional approach to more of an emphasis on specialty and natural foods, premium quality prepared foods and other upscale offerings. The move into more extensive and premium wine merchandising fits well with the grocer's overall change in merchandising strategy. Just as specialty, premium and natural/organic foods are the fastest growing categories at retail, so to are beverages in these categories. In particular, premium and organic wines, craft and specialty beers, and innovative signature cocktails are hot. The Best Sellers acquisition should give A&P a specialty food and beverage one-two punch in their new merchandising program.
Tesco's wine chief to Aussie wine industry: "Put the personality back into wine:" Dan Jago, who runs wine merchandising for British retailer Tesco, the world's third largest retailer, recently gave a scolding to Australian wine producers at the 13th Annual Wine Industry Conference in Melbourne.At the conference yesterday, Jago told the winemakers they've been resting on their laurels. "I would really, really ask you to put the personality back into wine," he told them. "For too long you've been saying 'this is good because it's Australian.' You have to tell us why it's different."
Jago went on to expalin what he meant more specifically. "I would also urge you to make your wines lighter and more refreshing," he said. "Wines with 13 or 14 percent alcohol just aren't exciting anymore, and consumers are looking to the 'old world' for more refreshing wines."
Did the Australia winemakers listen? Well, Tesco is the largest overseas buyer of Australian wines, and one of the top retailers if wines in general in the world. The British-based mega-retailer also is considered in the industry to be one of the best at merchandising and selling wines.
Jago did offer some positive words to the Aussie winemakers though. He told the group he sees "considerable opportunities" for Australian wine exports in terms of gaining market share and profitability. He suggested that as an industry in general, and as a retailer (Tesco) in particular "we're running to hot on promotions right now." As such, "You shorten the life of your brands by over-spiking them," he told the winemakers. His solution: "Let's reduce promotional participation" in general. In other words, he let them know Tesco plans to cut back on its promotional activity in the wine category.
Jago urged the winemakers and marketers to embrace change, telling them "If you don't change, others will change faster." That's likely good advice for any industry. However, we can't help wondering if the Aussie's will invite Jago back next year?
Tesco's Fresh & Easy offers its own version of two-buck-chuck: British retailer Tesco's new Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets venture in the U.S., which is sort of an IGA neighborhood grocery store meets Trader Joe's. is taking a wine merchandising page from the Trader and offering its own version of a two dollar bottle of wine.
Fresh & Easy's version is called Big Kahuna, an Australian Shiraz imported for the retailer by Cornerstone, a new U.S. subsidiary of Copestick Murray, a wine company based in Wiltshire, England. Copestick Murray is a major wine supplier to Tesco, and the British-based retailer brought the company along with it to the U.S. to import many of the wines it sells in its Fresh & Easy grocery markets. Thus far 13 Fresh & Easy stores have opened in Southern California and Nevada and more are on the way.
Fresh & Easy also is selling another private label wine which is getting rave reviews, especially for its price-to-quality value. The wine is a Recoleta, an Argentine wine. It's a blend of Malbec, Argentina's primary red wine, and Bonarda. The wine sells for $3.99 bottle. We're told by a couple wine lovers in Southern California that they bought all the bottles in one of the Fresh & Easy stores after buying a bottle a couple days earlier and loving it--and it's price. They call the wine "premium four-buck chuck."
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The international movement to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs is currently in its infancy. However, beginning in 2008, we believe the movement will pick up steam, joining plastic grocery bag bans as a major green campaign in the west.As our readers know, we've been following closely the growing international movement by municipalities, states and provinces to ban plastic grocery bags. You can read our latest piece on plastic bag bans here.
We believe another ban movement is beginning, and that it will start to pick up steam next year. This movement will be advocating bans on the selling of incandescent light bulbs.
We see this ban taking many forms. First, we think there will be increased pressure put on retailers to stop selling incandescent light bulbs altogether, and to just offer compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which most already sell, for sale in their stores. Second, we believe on the governmental level, ban-the-bulb campaigns will be strongest first at the city or municipality levels, followed by states and provinces. Nationwide bans will come last, with some exceptions of course, such as the one discussed below.
One of the first major movements to ban incandescent light bulbs is beginning in Ireland. Greenpeace UK has launched a major online campaign and petition drive to get Ireland's environment minister, John Gormely, to author legislation to ban the incandescent bulb.
Greenpeace UK chose Ireland to start this campaign because the country uses more energy for lighting than any other country in the European Union (EU). Greenpeace UK wants the Irish government to pass a law which will set tough energy efficiency standards on household lighting.
The Irish government has already began a program to phase out incandescent light bulbs and has proposed an "eco-tax" on them in order to favor the use of CFLs Greenpeace supports the tax but says its not enough. Rather, they want the government to implement a law which insists on mandatory, ever-improving efficiency standards for household lighting. Such standards would make the incandescent bulb a thing of the past, they say.
You can read more about the Greenpeace UK proposal here, as well as see the online petition to the Irish government. Thus far 8,634 people have signed the petition. Greenpeace UK's goal is for 10,000 signatures.
Essentially, the group's plan isn't for the Irish government to pass a law that says outright that incandescent light bulbs can no longer be sold in the country. Rather, by passing its proposed lighting efficiency standards, which technologically incandescent bulbs can't meet, the old-school bulbs would just fade away.
In the UK there's currently a "voluntary" ban on incandescent bulbs in place. Bulbs with less than 30 lumens per watt could gradually disappear from the marketplace under the ban--but it is voluntary. A number of UK retailers have said they plan on completely eliminating the sale of incandescents in their stores. For example, the Woolworth's supermarket chain says it will stop selling incandescents by 2010. Additionally, the Co-op, a food retailer with numerous stores in the UK, has said it also will no longer sell incandescent bulbs after 2010.
Swedish furniture and household accessory retailer Ikea, which has stores in the UK and throughout the world, recently announced it will ban the sale of incandescent bulbs in all its stores worldwide by 2011.
Greenpeace UK is lobbying every major retailer that sells incandescent light bulbs in the UK, and tracking their response to the voluntary ban. Thus far one retailer, Currys, says it will stop selling incandescents by the end of this year.
Another UK retailer, Habitat, has committed to eliminating the bulbs from its shelves by the end of 2009. In Addition to Woolworths and the Co-op, other major retailers who say they will stop selling incandescents by the end of 2010 include, ASDA, Sainsburys and Morrisons. Sainsburys is the UK's number one retailer. ASDA is owned by Wal-Mart.
Tesco, the UK's number two retailer, and Waitrose, the leading upscale grocer in the UK, have committed to banning the incandescent bulbs from their shelves by the end of 2011. You can read a list, and time-line, of UK retailers who've thus far agreed to stop selling incandescents here.
The move to ban incandescent bulbs also is picking up steam elsewhere in the EU, but not yet to the degree it has in the UK and Ireland. The movement also is starting to develop in the U.S. Cities such as San Francisco, which is the first U.S. city to ban plastic grocery bags, and a few others are considering legislation regarding household lighting efficiency standards and possible incandescent bulb bans.
Groups also are beginning to put pressure on major U.S. retailers like Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, to stop selling the bulbs. Earlier this year Wal-Mart came out with its own private label CFL, which it's selling in some cases for as little as 99 cents each.
We expect to see the movement gain major traction in the U.S. next year however as Green Peace and other groups begin to focus more on retailers, like they are in the UK, and as more cities look at local legislation. In the U.S., such environmental legislation generally starts at the local level, then moves to the states and federal government after.
We also expect to see some progressive retailers stop selling the incandescent bulbs on their own. Major U.S. retailers like Home Depot and Lowe's already devote very little shelf space to incandescents relative to the amount of space they now are devoting to CFLs. Further, public utilities systems in the U.S. are offering rebates on the purchase of CFLs by consumers. These rebates bring the price of CFLs down to that of incandescents, and are resulting in huge sales increases in the CFL category.
This is an issue that, like plastic grocery bag bans, is going to grow rapidly internationally. We will be watching it closely and reporting on it regularly for our readers.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Natural Lawson's key target market is women. Many of its stores also have female managers, which isn't traditional in Japan's convenience store industry. Pictured above is Shodo Yuka, manager of one of the retailer's Tokyo stores.
Premium, all natural international brands and products like Starbucks share shelf space with locally-produced Japanese brands in Natural Lawson convenience stores.
Natural Lawson uses an upscale, attractive font style and natural motif graphic for its logo on the signs outside each store, inviting shoppers to come inside.
Natural Lawson cobini (convenience stores) even have all natural pet treat and upscale pet toy sections for man's (and women's) best friends.
Ethicurean consumers: A serious and growing movement
Move over epicureans, vegetarians, vegans, locavors and other food lifestylers, there's a new consumer in town--and a new term to add to the growing lexicon of words and phrases that define today's eaters. Ethicureans are eaters who's food concerns and principles take precedence over taste. They love good food, but for these consumers that food must at least fall into four key categories: sustainable, organic, local and ethical. Ethicureans call it SOLE food for short.
Although food choices for ethicureans must fall into these four categories, life isn't so easy. Contradictions abound. For example, is it ethical to eat organically-grown foods that are imported from thousands of miles away? The answer would likely be no. However, what if those organically grown foods are produced by farmers in an undeveloped country who are paid a fair trade wage to grow the organic delights? And what if by exporting these organic foods, these farmers, for the first time ever, are able to live a fairly decent lifestyle? That answer is a bit more difficult for ethicureans to answer, although since the food isn't locally-produced it does violate one of their four SOLE food precepts for ethical eating.
Similarly, what about locally-produced conventional fruits and vegetables. Imagine this produce being produced by a farmer who pays his workers double the minimum wage, provides health insurance for them at no charge and operates a sustainable farm with the exception of using commercial fertilizer, which means the fruits and veggies aren't organic. However, the produce is local, the farmer is super-ethical, and uses otherwise very sustainable agricultural methods with the exception of the commercial fertilizer? You get our point--ethical eating is fraught with contradictions.
Despite this fact, ethicureans are committed to their cause and working through the contradictions. As a guide to eating ethically they suggest eating as close to "raw" foods as one can. In other words, the more processed and refined a food is, the more energy and water is used to produce it--hence making it unethical by various degrees. As such, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and unprocessed or lightly processed foods are the choice of ethicureans. This doesn't mean they eschew quality or gourmet foods. Rather, it's quit the opposite is many cases. In fact, many are foodies who love quality foods as long as they meet the SOLE food criteria: sustainable, organic, local and ethical.
Writer Michael Pollin--author of the Omnivore's Dilemma--is serving as sort of a non-elected guide to ethicureans in terms of what they "should" eat. Pollin, a popularizer of the term locavore (one who eats local foods), suggests a good rule of thumb for ethicureans is not to eat anything our great-great-great grandmothers wouldn't recognize. This rules out popular convenience foods and many other staples found in the modern supermarket. He praises what he argues is the ethical superiority of small, local organic farms. (A locavore isn't supposed to eat foods produced more than 100 miles from where they live.)
Pollin also believes the industrialization of food production has caused the organic foods movement to lose its soul. Multinational corporations buying smaller independent organic producers, the mass marketing of organic groceries by mega-chains like Wal-Mart, Target and others, and what he says are contradictory organic products like microwavable organic TV dinners, are all contributing factors to this loss of soul by the organics movement, which once was the domain of food cooperatives, farmers' markets and orthodox health foods stores.
Other aspects of the ethicurean lifestyle include eating seasonal foods. Seasonal foods generally travel much shorter distances than non-seasonal ones, thus falling into the local category, as producing these foods requires them to travel fewer food miles. Food miles is a measure of the distance foods travel from where they are produced to where they are consumed. Along the way these foods require numerous energy inputs--fuel, refrigeration and the like--which releases carbon into the atmosphere at each step along the way.
Bottled water is another negative for ethicureans. They argue it violates numerous green principles. First, it's packaged in plastic, which requires the use of fossil fuels to produce. The plastic water bottles also must be recycled--and often end-up being tossed into landfills. Next, most bottled water travels great distances from where it's produced and warehoused to the stores where it's sold. This supply and distribution chain requires excess food miles, they argue, and causes pollution and carbon emissions throughout the journey.
Lastly, much of the bottled water sold is merely filtered tap water. Ethicureans argue this is a waste of municipal water supplies which have been paid for by taxpayers. It's unethical they say for corporations to make money off these public utility systems. Instead they advocate drinking tap water, using reusable water bottles instead of disposable ones, and if needed using a filteration system on home water taps rather than buying bottled water.
Waste reduction also is key for ethicureans. Fresh produce packaged in foam trays or plastic bags is avoided. Rather, these consumers only buy bulk produce, which is generally organic. Along with recycling, they advocate home composting, not only as a way to keep food scraps out of landfills, but also as a way to provide an organic soil amendment for home gardening, which is the ultimate in local food sourcing.
Eating less meat and dairy is a part of the ethicurean lifestyle. A couple facts: About 60 billion animals are slaughtered each year in the world for food. According to the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization, global meat and milk consumption will nearly double between now and the year 2050. Ethicureans argue that by simply eating four fewer (than average) servings of dairy a week, consumers can save 26,000 liters of water and cut greenhouse pollution by about 500 kilograms annually. Cutting back on the amount of meat one eats also conserves water and energy, and results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Doing so is part of an ethical consumer lifestyle they say.
Buying and supporting fair trade, free-range, cruelty-free, organic and GMO-free foods are all aspects of the ethicurean lifestyle. Ethicureans look for labels and logos describing these attributes on the food products they buy. These economic and moral concerns are built into the ethical consumer stance ethicureans take--and vote on with their pocketbooks at the grocery store.
Ethical consumers are a small but fast-growing group globally. The movement is strongest obviously in the developed, western world where people have the luxury to make such choices. It's current epicenter is the United Kingdom but it's making strong inroads throughout western Europe, the U.S. and Australia.
Ethicureans are a diverse lot in terms of their backgrounds and eating habits to a certain degree. Not all adhere to the same, identical practices in terms of how they shop and what they eat. However, there is a broad consensus among them on what the key aspects of an ethicurean lifestyle are. These include the four categories described in the beginning of this piece--sustainable, organic, local and ethical (SOLE food)--along with various sub-categories like animal welfare, reduction of meat and dairy use, water conservation, fair trade and others.
Food producers, marketers and retailers should learn more about the ethicurean movement. Although it shares many similarities to established consumer lifestyles such as vegetarianism, veganism, naturalism and others, it's much different in that it comprises a comprehensive core of ethical, moral, humane, economic, social and political variables into a whole. That whole is the ethicurean consumer lifestyle--a growing global social, behavioral and economic consumer movement you will be hearing much more about.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Farm Sanctuary says it's rescued thousands of turkeys from the meat cleaver over the past 20 years. The group operates shelters in Watkins Glen, NY and Orland, CA, where your adopted turkey will live out the rest of its natural life in a human and pleasant environment, never having to again worry about becoming a Thanksgiving day main course.
The second film in The Meatrix trilogy, The Meatrix II: Revolting, takes on the dairy industry and some of the practices used by some of its players. The third and last film in the trilogy, The Meatrix II 1/2, pays a visit to a meat processing facility, where the narrator says, "We learn how we feed our Fast Food Nation."
On their website, the group asks consumers to commit to drinking tap water and using reusable water bottles rather than buying commercially bottled water. They argue it's much more ecologically efficient to use tap water at home, and to fill a reusable water bottle with it when going outside the house, rather than buying water commercially bottled in plastic bottles which tends to travel vast distances and end-up needing to be recycled or worse being dumped in a landfill.