A new scientific research model from an Italian food and nutritional health think tank, the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, successfully highlights the strong connection between health and the green and ethical credentials of different foods. The Double Pyramid, presented at the European Parliament on October 12, provides a green platform for the marketing of whole grain, bread and pasta.
While Barilla is not the first to suggest such a link, what is different about this Double Pyramid model is the effective way in which it speaks to consumers. The model combines the well-known 'food pyramid', which highlights the healthiness of foodstuffs and the quantities in which these should be eaten, with the extent of the environmental friendliness of different products.
The on-pack opportunities here are considerable. One of the key actions recommended in Datamonitor's recent report Offering Ethicality and Sustainability in Food and Drinks (April 2010, DMCM4665) is ensuring that a product's more pertinent attributes are not compromised for ethical benefits. This model would not lead players to make that mistake.
Revealing and then emphasizing to consumers the fact that the healthy foodstuffs at the bottom of the food pyramid, such as bread, pasta and whole grain, also have a low environmental impact helps to communicate effectively to consumers the tangible personal benefit of choosing a more ethically aligned product. By contrast, those products at the top of the food pyramid, red meat and dairy - which are not so healthy and should be eaten in moderation - are also the least environmentally friendly.
The link between the ethical and health trends has always been implied, insofar as consumers attain a sense of emotional wellbeing by purchasing and consuming in a sustainable fashion (i.e. for the greater good). However, directly linking ethically produced foods with consumer health concerns has been fraught with difficulties. For every study reported in the media that states that organic food is healthier than conventionally grown produce, another claims that this is not so. As such, while a certain segment of consumers have always associated health with organics, it has been an area that producers have found difficult to definitively talk up to shoppers.
The Double Pyramid model, on the other hand, is a simple, effective and easy-to-understand way of communicating the synergistic benefits of health and environment on-pack. This is a real opportunity for companies that have a notable presence in bread, whole grain and pasta (of which Barilla is one) to communicate this link effectively to consumers. Indeed, one of the most far-reaching potential effects of this is the positioning of breakfast, which includes bread and cereals, as the 'greenest meal of the day'.