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Monday, May 20, 2024

Potential shift in packaged food companies towards transparency & healthier options

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In Short:

Organised packaged food companies are under increasing scrutiny due to concerns raised by public health advocates, social media influencers, and users about health claims, product formulations, and nutrition levels. There is a push for these companies to shift towards healthier products and provide more transparency in their labels. Consumers are seeking healthier options, and insurgent brands are gaining market share. Companies are urged to comply with regulations and make scientifically-backed claims. Public health advocates are calling for a more stringent legal framework for the packaged food industry.


Organised Food Companies Under Scrutiny for Health Claims

Recently, organised packaged food players have been facing increased scrutiny over their health claims, product formulations, and nutrition levels. Public health advocates, social media influencers, and users have raised concerns, prompting experts to predict that these companies will need to shift towards healthier products and more transparency in their labels.

Challenges Faced by Leading Players

Swiss NGO, Public Eye, highlighted concerns about the “added sugar” levels in Nestle’s baby food products sold in India and other developing markets. Additionally, the absence of a clear definition for “health drinks” led FSSAI to direct e-commerce players not to categorize products like Bournvita, Complan, and Horlicks as health drinks. Spices brands Everest and MDH are also under scrutiny for the presence of ethylene oxide, and social media influencer Revant Himatsingka pointed out high sodium levels in certain ready-to-eat items served on Indigo flights.

Expert Insights

According to KS Narayanan, a food & beverage expert, adherence to regulatory norms is crucial for public health. However, challenges in ingredient sourcing and local market variations can impact product formulations. Narayanan emphasizes the importance of complying with both the letter and spirit of the regulations to address these issues.

Shift Towards Healthier Products

As consumers increasingly seek healthier food options, packaged food companies are adapting. Rinka Banerjee, Founder of Thinking Forks Consulting, notes the industry’s shift towards healthier product portfolios. She highlights the approach of gradually reducing negative nutrients and increasing positive nutrients while maintaining taste.

Harsh Gursahani, a food lawyer, emphasizes the importance of scientifically-backed claims to create a market differentiator. He notes an increasing number of mid-sized and small-sized companies seeking assistance to ensure compliance with regulations.

Call for Stringent Regulations

Public health advocates like Arun Gupta are calling for a more comprehensive legal framework for the packaged food industry. Gupta stresses the need for definitions for high fat, salt, and sugar products, as well as front-of-the-pack warning labels to address these issues.

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