When Marty McFly arrived at his mother’s house in 1955, most of the food on the table was likely made from scratch, except for maybe those instant mashed potatoes (Zemeckis, 1985). Even when he got back to 1985, most of the food was still made from scratch. By 2015 much of the food would be made for mom and family, already prepared by a manufacturer.
A 1985 movie shows that consumer influence on new product development is nothing new. All industries react to what their customer tells them that they want. What becomes challenging is when the customer wants something that potentially impacts their safety and not in a good way - especially with products that are among the highest risk for food safety issues.
According to Food Marketing Institute (FMI), 53% of adults use some semi-prepared items such as precooked meat or heat-and-eat side dishes to prepare dinner compared to 35% who mostly cook from scratch (Food Marketing Institute, 2016). When asked why, 45% stated because they don’t have time to cook (Figure below). Finally, ready-to-eat food is most affected by recalls (21%) globally over the next closes fruits, vegetables and nuts at 15% (Swiss Reinsurance Company LTD, 2015).
Figure: Consumer survey: "Why do you purchase ready meals versus preparing a meal from scratch? “*
(Euromonitor International, 2012)
How is your company responding to these market changes? What happens when these trends bump up to changing consumer perceptions about food safety and their desire for “clean labels”? Next week we will explore that in the next addition and see how Marty’s trip back in time is happening to the food industry right now. In the meantime, stop by our website www.microbac.com/food and feel free to ask questions about food safety and the nutritional content of your products, or even check out our Insights link for other food related articles.