In a rapidly changing world, nutritional habits have their share as well. Each generation is looking for something different in its everyday meals. Since we are in the era of personalised products, the food industry is struggling to satisfy every possible nutritional and gustatory demand.
Older generations are more sceptical to new ingredients and tastes whereas younger generations are ready to try everything new, exotic or innovative. However, all generations have one thing in common: quality, traceability and the nutritional value of the products. For decades it has been an extended scepticism linking high sugar and salt content food products to increased cardiovascular diseases, obesity and diabetes. Nowadays this scepticism has been turned into a favourable good will activism supported by information technology with one sole objective: identification and registration of the nutritional value of all the food products, aiming to promote consumers’ choice for healthier products and helping combat the increase in cardiovascular diseases, obesity and diabetes
Free online databases have been developed rapidly, allowing the registration and rating of thousands of food products in hundreds of different countries. They have been also recommended by the European Commission, the World Health Organization as well as several European authorities. In a recent article of ‘Les Echos – 27/11/2019’, the Director of Distribution Insights at Nielsen, Emmanuel Fournet, argues that this movement is the result of a triple phenomenon: governmental will, social awareness and recent initiatives by the food manufacturers and the distributors. They rate the nutritional value of a product from 1– 5 or from A – E communicating a clear message to the consumer. Among them we found Open Food Facts a free, online and crowdsourced database of food products from around the world launched in 2012 by Stéphane Gigandet. According to Wikipedia, in 2017 it contained already 880,000 products from 141 countries.
As part of the Health Act of 2016, the French government recommended the establishment of a clear, visible, and easy to understand nutritional information system. The goal was to improve the nutritional information on products and help consumers buy foods of higher nutritional quality. Nutri-score was born. Derived from the UK Food Standards Agency, nutri-score is one of the most efficient nutrient profiling systems.
Soon consumers will check the price and the rating of each product before taking the decision to purchase it. However, the term healthy food is conceived differently by each nation. Tomorrow’s challenge will be to turn what today’s is considered as ‘junk food’ in to a nutritional and healthy food.