Debate Over Ultra-Processed Foods Spurs 'Reevaluation Of Health Perceptions'

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Debate Over Ultra-Processed Foods Spurs 'Reevaluation Of Health Perceptions'

Brands will need to invest in food technology in order to overcome the negative association with ultra-processed foods (UPFs), while still being able to delivery on sensory enjoyment and price, GlobalData has said.

Hannah Cleland, consumer analyst at GlobalData, was commenting on the ongoing debate around UPFs, their effects, and whether they align with optimal dietary practices.

As she noted, completely abstaining from UPFs will be challenging, given their domination in various grocery categories – plus, certain segments, such as bread and fortified products, offer essential nutrients. As a result, brands should focus on UPFs that offer legitimate health advantages.

'Prioritise Certain Categories'

“Given the pervasive nature of UPFs, the most logical approach for brands tackling the UPF issue is to prioritise certain categories. One of the biggest areas for reformulation and repositioning will be plant-based alternatives," Cleland said.

A recent GlobalData survey across a number of major markets found that in terms of the amount of processed food eaten in plant-based meat and seafood and plant-based dairy, 46% and 45% of consumers, respectively, were extremely/quite concerned.


Plant-Based Limbo

The plant-based sector in particular finds itself in 'limbo', GlobalData suggests, with consumers are challenging the notion that these alternatives are genuinely healthier.

Across categories, food brands will need to invest in food tech innovation to give additives a clean label 'glow'.

“Amidst the uncertainty around UPFs, brands should look at consumer mindsets category by category to assess what actions need to be taken," said Cleland. "A complex understanding of category and consumer sentiment nuances will allow companies to leverage food technology in the most effective way.”

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