“The whole-foods movement is based a little bit on an erosion of consumer trust. So to me, if we think about whole food, I tend to think of it as what consumer need are we meeting. And very often the desire for whole food is borne out of wanting to trust our food again.”
—Eric Pierce, New Hope Network
Part 1: What constitutes a whole food?
- A whole food is a result of creating, instead of dissecting. A product that’s close to its origin—not adulterated or processed, and free of preservatives, etc.
- How much will consumers pay extra for the additional costs that come with fresher, more whole-food ingredients? That's hard to quantify, but knowing your consumers will help to determine what priorities they have.
- Some drivers of the growing interest in whole foods: the health crisis—and the fact that people may be living longer, but are not necessarily healthier—and, for millennials, having watched a lot of fad diets fail their parents.
Part 2: Sourcing
- Processing aids get added that aren’t on the label, and that consumers will never know about. Brands need to keep consumers — and their best interests — in mind when making any decision, because consumers want to trust the brand to make those decisions. Help to build and maintain that trust.
- All sourcing needs to come from understanding your brand and knowing from day one who you want to be when you grow up — and knowing where you will and won’t compromise.
- Responsible sourcing can be done, but it really needs to be a part of who you are as a brand. It then also becomes part of a brand’s story, which can be communicated to the consumer and used to help build the brand.
Part 3: Costs and manufacturing
- Raw ingredients cost what they cost. A lot of cost-related challenges can be traced to outside pressures encouraging margins that are not realistic.
- The industry has been built on large-scale manufacturing—there’s room for going smaller.
- Brands need to talk about their stories and what they’re offering not just to consumers but across the supply chain. Co-manufacturers may like the brand's values, or may have a gap in their lineup that consumers are starting to demand and that a new brand will fill.
This session—A New Frontier in Product Innovation: Whole Foods—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.