What Consumers Want
People want everything they’ve traditionally demanded of their food and meal occasions — taste enjoyment, freshness, nutrition and value. Except, today they need it to be faster and easier, with little to no preparation and virtually no clean up. Packaging plays a key role in solving the portability, storage, heating and serving questions. Precise formulation is key to consistency of quality, and food safety assurances must override all objectives.
These needs of consumers — consciously known or not by them — are top of mind everyday throughout the test kitchens, production facilities and packaging lines of Wornick Foods.
New Technology Creating Cleaner and Better Quality Food
Clean eating and less processed food are of increasing importance among consumers who have growing concerns around additives and preservatives. 915 Labs has created a new and healthier technology to process packaged food called Microwave-Assisted Thermal Sterilization (MATS). MATS technology is a process of heating packaged food with microwaves at a frequency of 915 megahertz, still removing food pathogens and spoilage microorganisms, but working quicker than the 2450 MHz used in home microwave ovens. By retaining the color, texture, and flavor of packaged food, MATS technology is able to provide what the consumer wants, a clean label, quality, and convenience.
Baby Boomers Drawn to Clean Label Products
Although a great amount of advertising is targeted toward millennials, when it comes to clean label seekers, Baby Boomers are actually the most interested demographic. With more time and money on their hands, Baby Boomers are drawn to clean label products for their health aspects with the goal of avoiding additives. The clean label movement has been gaining steam for years with organic food sales increasing 11% to reach $35.9 billion in 2014. The demand for cleaner label products has generated a lot of confusion about organic, non-GMO, and all-natural claims on labels. Clean label is a complicated topic, with the main goal being an understanding of what is in the food one is buying and the avoidance of additives.
Center of Store Given New Life with Natural and Organic Products
The center of the grocery store has long struggled with consumers seeing choices in this area as less fresh in comparison to the produce section. The Kroger Co. has seen success in changing this perception with an increase in the number of natural and organic products available from packaged food companies. Kroger has also organized the center sections to provide an easier and more intuitive shopping experience, taking into account seasonal and event-driven shopping interests. For example, Kroger has improved the center of the store by redesigning the coffee aisle to address the way people shop for coffee and the types they like to buy, not just K-Cups but beans and ground coffee, as well. Produce is only 10% of Kroger’s business, so the company has made it a priority to focus on big brand category growth in the center aisles.