Tag Archives: food consumer

The Return of the “Curvy Cucumber and Knobbly Carrot” to EU Supermarkets.

Consumers in Europe are likely to increasingly see fruit and vegetables with less than perfect appearance (the so called “wonky” produce) on their supermarket shelves from July 2009 as the EU tries to reduce its bureaucracy


Attractive and wholesome fruit and vegetables like these feed the world but have, over the last few decades, lost their place in the “First World’s“ supermarkets to perfectly shaped and coloured specimens. Through the supermarket pushing “quality” and bureaucrats busying themselves, visual standards gained a status that has had negative impacts for the consumer, the farmer and the environment. The European Union is well known for the banana standard which, after a year of study, stated that a banana should be “5.5 inches long and 1.1 inches wide, and could not be abnormally bent”. This allowed the EU to advantage bananas from the Caribbean (mainly its former colonies) that met the standard to the disadvantage of Latin American producers who were backed by USA based multinationals. Rulings by the World Trade Organisation and the threats of the US lead to a truce with the tariffs being removed progressively. But now regulations on 26 fruits and vegetables have been repealed while member states can allow the sale of 10 other products which do not meet the standards, so long as appropriate labeling is used.

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Organic Foods in the Food Crisis

The movement in the Organic food market is important to Africa is we do intend increasing the use of Organic as a selling point, but also because it is an indicator of how people in Europe are going to react to increasing food prices.

Tesco, the UK chain, decreased it’s prices in August 2008 by up to 25 per cent, “in response to feedback from consumers who are feeling the effects of the credit crunch” Tesco believe
consumers were already less willing to pay the premium price of Organic Foods, in the face of higher prices on basic commodities and the general economic downturn.

Late in August USA Today reported on declines in the growth of Organic food in the USA, which they linked to their premium price.


Organic food sales feel the bite from sluggish economy - USATODAY.com.jpg


At the end of August the Guardian reported on data collected for it by market research group TNS.


Shoppers lose their taste for organic food | Environment | The Guardian.jpg

from: Guardian
(click image for full story online)


The information showed the UK suffered the worst decline in sales over the last 10 years. Although the Soil Association had different data they acknowledged the fact that the consumers situation was definitely effecting sales.

The Private Sector Development Blog of the World bank noted the decrease reported on by the Guardian , but added that the effect on purchases from Developing Countries will be lower because most Organic Food is purchased from Developed Countries.

Another article by the Guardian wondered whether this quick reversal in the face of the economic downturn indicates that the Organic movement is just a fad.

On the other hand the Dane’s consumption of organic foods seems not to be effected by food price increases.


Gloomy Economy Doesn_t Stop the Danes From Eating More Organic _ TreeHugger.jpg

from: Tree Hugger
(click image for full story online)


Tree Hugger believes this is a result of an older organic system and the fact that retail is wider spread, down to the corner store.

Interesting is the fact that Restaurants & Caterers can be certified at bronze, silver and gold levels, depending on the content of organic ingredients in their food.

The final question is what effect will the current financial crisis, assuming its is going take years to correct, have on the development of the Organic Sector over the short and medium terms.

Trends in Processed Foods – In Africa?

I regularly get access to articles like the one illustrated below which give a view of what the trends in foods for the “Western Market”

Food Science Central - Ten trends to watch in packaged goods in 2008.jpg


This is always interesting but not really of direct applicability to any but a small part of the African market. I find this list interesting in that it hardly covers an issue that links to actually liking and enjoying the food but rather links to health and fitness issues.

To the entrepreneur it maybe gives an idea of what may happen in the future and at least keeps him thinking and in touch with what’s possible. It doesn’t really help in exporting as practically no cutting edge secondary products are exported from Africa.

What would be interesting is what are the food product needs and trends of the African consumer. I am not sure that this is available and would really ask that anyone who has such an article discuss it in the comments

If this article is of interest but you would prefer to get it via email than having to download it email me by clicking hereand I will send it to you by return email.

One of the items on the above top 10 is Out of Africa which is described as

Out of Africa

In a world that is getting smaller by the minute, the continent of Africa remains a mystery for most. That could be changing. We are just beginning to see an influx of African ingredients like shea butter and baobab oil into new non-food items like skin creams and cosmetics. For foods, hot peppers like African birds eye chili – also known as Peri-Peri – are beginning to appear in new sauces and condiments. And flavours from North Africa like couscous, for instance, are also gaining ground.

Besides the fact that I thought couscous was a cereal food and not a flavour, I am very interested in this. I have pushed attempts at commercialising indigenous foods for some time with little success. But maybe the time is now coming – there are after all more curry take aways in England than Fish & Chip shops! and its not just a mirror of immigration.