Many food and beverage products look like a NASCAR with the consumer claims all over the packaging. These claims can communicate your product attributes quickly and effectively. Google can provide definitions, but it does not always help you understand the importance of the term or perhaps even a specific meaning in our industry. We are going to share some food and beverage industry terms and explain how they can benefit or impact your business.
This week at SIAL in Montreal I had the opportunity to participate in a panel on consumer claims with Linda Fox from the Canadian Food Innovation Network and Chester Fedorov from Fiddlehead. It was a great chance to have a conversation about some of these claims and the role they play for food and beverage products.
Consumer claims are recognized logos that verify a product meets certain standards or criteria. These claims are effective to communicate with consumers, differentiate the product in the category and illustrate the value the product delivers.
Consider the costs and the value consumer claims deliver
As we talk about a lot, producers and processors have to satisfy customers (retailers) and consumers (end users). Consumer claims can help your products with both stakeholders.
Value to your customers
Your customers will not get too excited about consumer claims and there is a good chance they do not appreciate the challenges of meeting the criteria for some of these claims. You might have to educate them about the size of the market looking for the claims you have and why they are important. They will be more interested in how the claims will drive sales than they are in what you have to do to qualify for the claim. It is always worthwhile to ask yourself the questions:
‘Will my customer pay more because of this claim?’
‘Will my customer put the product on the shelf because of this claim?’
‘Will this claim differentiate my product in the category in retail or online?’
Value to consumers
These are called consumer claims for a reason. Consumers do look for them and often they do deliver some perceived value to your product. For example a certified organic product will have a perceived value higher than conventional items in most categories.
If you plan to include some of these claims it is important to reinforce the meaning and impact in your consumer marketing. It will be beneficial to you and help build long term value. Some of these claims are very powerful and they will improve the perception of your products.
Claims can differentiate your product within the category on the shelf. For example of you are the only gluten free item in the category you can create opportunities in the store or online. Conversely if there are already 3 gluten free items in the category the claim will not hurt you but not differentiate the same way. One interesting segment of the panel discussion was how your timing can impact the value of the consumer claim. If you are first or an early adopter it can have a greater impact.
One new consumer claim we saw at SIAL was the upcycled food association. Upcycled food products are created by using ingredients that would have been going to a waste stream. The product that won the innovation award at SIAL was an upcycled product. This is barley flour from Ground Up is produced from barley used in the process to brew beer.
Explain your claims and maximize the benefits
The claims will help but you also have to tell your story to ensure they resonate. One product we saw at SIAL were Good Chips by Paramo snacks. This company from Colombia includes a number of claims on their beet chips. One commitment they make is to donate 2% of sales to save the Paramos, which is a mountain range in Colombia. This is unique because they are making a statement that will resonate with consumers in their market and they probably believe they will have an impact close to home as opposed to some broader claims to ‘Save the planet’. They also include a QR code to give interested consumers a chance to learn more and for them to share their story. This can be very powerful.
Consumer claims can also restrict your offering
One other component of our panel conversation was the challenges facing producers and processors with ingredients and other supply chain issues. During these challenging times it is more important to have product to sell than to have a product you cannot produce because you cannot meet your consumer claims. Hopefully this will change soon but a consideration right now.
It was great to spend time at the Atlantic Pavilion at the SIAL show. During the three days of the show these companies really highlighted what the food and beverage industry in Atlantic Canada has to offer.
If you have any questions or require help deciding the right consumer claims, you can always send me an email email@example.com or call me at (902) 489-2900.
Convenience store sales rebound
One of the challenges during the pandemic has been the shifting of food and beverage sales from one channel to another. It can be very difficult to predict your volume and forecast production. It is so important to continue talking to customers about sales. My recommendation is to have a number in mind and confirm with them that is where they see sales going.
Industry code of conduct update
The Canadian food industry continues to work through the challenges of improving the atmosphere and working relationships. The stakeholders are meeting regularly and trying to find common ground. There does appear to be a desire to find an industry led solution as opposed to one that is mandated to them.
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