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Our Evolving View of Food

Food, as we all know, is so much more than a simple source of sustenance. And the process of delivering food to the consumer increasingly requires companies to be aware of issues of sustainability and social responsibility.

“Food is risk today; it is ethics today; it’s medicine; and it’s fuel,” said Sylvia Rowe, SR Strategy, Washington, D.C., speaking in a symposium (Session 013) on Sunday morning, June 7, titled, “The Convergence of Health and Wellness and the Environment: Drivers Behind Consumer Choice.”

Consumers are grappling with a variety of complex issues when they consider the big picture of sustainability, Rowe pointed out in her symposium presentation, which addressed both consumer perceptions and media coverage of the food industry. Today’s consumers are weighing the significance and convergence of several issues as they make food purchases. They’re taking into consideration whether a product is organic, whether the ingredients are locally sourced, and whether it delivers health and wellness benefits.

Consumer attention to issues of sustainability and ethics is heightened, of course, by the ongoing media scrutiny the food industry undergoes, said symposium presenter Richard Elder, Elder Communications, Nellysford, Va.

Watch for some new controversy to emerge in the wake of an upcoming movie release, said Elder. The new film, Food Inc., which is slated to premiere June 12 in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, will take aim at major food companies, claiming that their focus on profits overshadows their interest in benefiting the consumer, Elder said.

What is your view? Is the food industry facing more intense media scrutiny than ever before? What is the best way for food companies to respond?

Mary Ellen Kuhn
Food Technology magazine
Managing Editor

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