“No-No Ingredients”: Kerry consumer research highlights meat concerns

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12 Jul 2018 --- Consumer knowledge of food and beverage properties has begun to evolve into ingredient curiosity, according to taste and nutrition company Kerry. With increased attention on the origin, sourcing and manufacturing of products, ingredient selection for meat products, has become a priority to consumers. They often want to know more about what they consume. In terms of clean label, consumers are demanding a return to real food and transparency through authenticity. They seek foods that are natural and familiar, with simple ingredients that are easy to recognize, understand and pronounce.

Rejection of ingredients that stray away from the familiar kitchen cupboard ingredients has been the first line of defense. However, this selection and rejection of ingredients is strongly influenced by the product itself.

“When it comes to the meat industry, we know that consumers are challenging retailers and foodservice operators alike to create products using recognizable, trusted and authentic ingredients. Naturally functional solutions, reflect what consumers want more than anything else from ingredients used in their foods,” Andy Oxley, VP of RD&A Meat Business, Kerry Taste & Nutrition tells FoodIngredientsFirst

“At Kerry, we view this as an opportunity to help our customers deliver clean label, authentic meat products that they know and trust. One example of where Kerry has worked tirelessly to deliver on this would be our spices. Sourced 100 percent from origin, our spices offer our customers complete traceability across an end-to-end supply chain,” he continues. 

“Spices and fermented ingredients are just some examples of the trusted ingredients we use as the foundations of our Clean Label Meat solutions. This delivers peace of mind for the consumer and a unique selling point for our customers when telling the story of their products.”

Kerry recently completed proprietary research, through surveys and sensory/product tests among lunch meat consumers. The most important claims for consumers of both lunch meat, hot dog and sausage products, found through this research have been used as the basis for a new report entitled “The Top Consumer No-No Ingredients for Meat by Generation,” with a particular focus on the Hot Dogs & Sausages/Lunch Meat Categories.

According to Kerry research, 75 percent of consumers read ingredient labels. Consumers want to know and learn more about the ingredients they consume. Ingredient selection has become a priority, as consumers are straying away from unfamiliar ingredients when purchasing food and beverages. Meat has played a prominent part in the clean label movement with many ingredients such as nitrites, nitrates, and MSG making it to the top of the no-no list for lunch meats and hot dogs/sausages.

Not all consumers behave similarly toward these ingredients. Demographically, Baby Boomers and Seniors are comparatively more likely to reject these ingredients than Millennials. This is important as these two groups are the highest consumers of hot dogs/sausages and lunch meat.

The top consumer “no-no ingredients” for Millennials (21-37 years) in Hot Dogs & Sausages are High Fructose Corn Syrup (49 percent), MSG (43 percent) and BHA/BHT (30 percent). In lunch meat, MSG (40 percent), High Fructose Corn Syrup (32 percent) and Nitrites & Nitrates (28 percent). 

For Generation X (38-53 years), the top consumer “no-no ingredients” for Hot Dogs & Sausages are High Fructose Corn Syrup (51 percent), MSG (51 percent) and Nitrites & Nitrates (36 percent). In lunch meat, MSG (37 percent), High Fructose Corn Syrup (28 percent) and Nitrites & Nitrates (24 percent). 

For Boomers (54-73 years), the top consumer “no-no ingredients” for Hot Dogs & Sausages are MSG (52 percent), Nitrites & Nitrates (52 percent) and High Fructose Corn Syrup (43 percent). In lunch meat, MSG (40 percent), High Fructose Corn Syrup (36 percent) and Nitrites & Nitrates (28 percent). 

Key findings from this research and report include: Click to Enlarge
• Ingredients which feature in the top three no-no ingredients for every consumer age group.
• Demographically, Baby Boomers and Seniors are comparatively more likely to reject certain ingredients than Millennials.
• The correlation between an age group’s consumption of processed meat and their rejection of ingredients specific to meats rather than more general no-no ingredients.

“Consumers are going deeper than looking for claims and checking for the scientific name of a preservative on the back of the pack. The research also highlights that those age groups who are the highest consumers of deli meats have a greater awareness of synthetic chemical ingredients when selecting their purchase,” says Michael Matthews, VP of Food Protection & Fermentation at Kerry. 

“Kerry have been leaders in the clean label, natural preservation space for many years and this research further supports Kerry’s continued investment in manufacturing assets and technology development for our portfolio of authentic, fermentation-derived fresh keeping solutions. Kerry showcases how fresh taste, appearance and texture can be maintained over shelf life without clouding labels or compromising food safety,” he explains.

Emma Cahill, Strategic Marketing Manager, Functional Ingredients & Actives, Kerry also tells FoodIngredientsFirst: “We were surprised to learn there was such mixed knowledge amongst millennials regarding artificial and chemical ingredients used in meat production. In fact, they often selected ingredients not traditionally associated with meat as the ingredients they were actively looking to avoid consuming in meat.”

“We see naturally functional as a clear, overarching macro trend. It reflects that consumers seek out foods, beverages and ingredients that they perceive as naturally healthy and which bring essential benefits,” she says. 

Snackification continues to gather momentum. Consumers’ have busy lives and while keen to increase their intake of naturally functional products, they ideally want them in a convenient format. Snackification offers food producers opportunities to premiumize products and when snack packs are matched with other consumer trends such as increased protein, the really resonate with “on the go” consumers, according to Cahill. 

“Consumers are keeping a closer eye on the quality of the protein that they intake,” she notes. “The deciding factors for meat purchased used to be as simple as freshness and fat content of meat. Now, we find consumers going deeper, beyond macronutrients, looking at salt content, sustainability, processing, authenticity, transparency and healthfulness of their meat choices. With the growth in consumers adopting flexitarian diets, processed meat manufacturers need to put their best foot forward in terms of taste and nutrition and meet these new consumer needs,” explains Cahill. 

It's not just the meat category which is noting differences in generational needs. During a webinar, last month, Dr. Ben Lawlor, Director of Sensory, Consumer and Analytical Sciences at Kerry, discussed how sensory science in beverages can be used to influence food intake across age groups. Dr. Lawlor highlighted the techniques to create beverages that can help populations who struggle with appetite eat more to meet their daily nutrient requirements.

“There is a lot of crossover from sports nutrition and the aging population. There are huge opportunities for the development of anything that enhances the muscle mass, from a sports nutrition point of view and equally for seniors. Obviously, there are different opportunities in sports nutrition, but certainly, there is a huge growing market for better-for-you beverages specifically targeting those markets,” he says.  

“It’s a case of applying the right tool to the right occasion, but there is a tool for every scenario in beverages that you can imagine,” he adds. 

You can listen to the webinar here

By Elizabeth Green

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