Nutrition labels and information on ingredients for food products is probably one of my most passionate interests within the field of nutrition. I even wrote a feature piece about the misleading claims on food products for a newspaper last year. So when Andrea from POM Wonderful contacted me about how Minute Maid has been misleading consumers with their pomegranate blueberry juice, I was eager to learn more.
Promoting a product as “healthy” when it contains less than 1% of the juice that it is labelled as – in this case, Minute Maid’s pomegranate blueberry juice – is a very big issue of misleading consumers. I read all of the ingredients on every food product that I buy, but I expect that I am in the minority: most people do not want to spend the time to analyze and compare different varieties of the same product in order to make the healthiest choice.
The problem that POM Wonderful has addressed is a classic example of how we cannot trust the manufacturers to be completely honest with us. And even the companies that do typically provide us with healthier options sometimes turn out a product which isn’t super healthy. That is why it is worth it to always read the ingredient lists, even for products that are from a reputable brand.
I am continually appalled at the marketing of countless products. There are so many consumers who don’t know what to look for, or who don’t realize the reality of what is in a product. I believe that there is a certain place for marketing strategies, certainly, or else the product would never be sold – and after all, I am a rhetorician so I understand the value of promotion – but I do think that the labels should be honest. The marketing strategies should reflect the product: rather than Minute Maid focusing on health, they could focus on something like taste, or that the container their product is in makes it easily portable, or similar.
Attn: Food manufacturers: please, figure out what the best thing about your product is, and sell it on the basis of that. If it is truly a healthy product, then by all means market it as a nutritious choice (I’m thinking whole grain rolled oats. Apples. Free-range eggs. Real food.) If your product is a chocolate bar, then market it on the basis that it is deliciously tasty. If it comes in small packages, then market it as a product that travels well. You can sell your product and be honest at the same time. And if you can’t, well, you have a serious problem with your product and/or marketing team.
Okay, readers, it’s your turn: how do you feel about current marketing strategies and labels on food products?