VEGA News Item

Branston's in a Pickle - 28/05/2008
A Dollop of Source from their Consumer Services Department

1) Goings-on in the baked beans market means stimulated competition and innovation to bring joy to veggies seeking convenient traditional foods with all the nutritional information and profiling that the Food Standards Agency call for.

We too follow development carefully: they can offer greater choice in meals and recipes eligible for conclusion in our Portfolio of eating plans to tickle the taste buds of meat- frees and dairy –frees aiming at the best of cruelty-free meals built round the pulses of many cuisines depending on the thrifty nitrogen – fixing crops. Mushy peas and pea pudding are one thing, but those tins of baked beans in spicy tomato sauces look promising for veggies.

2) The entry of the vast Premier Foods Organisation into the veggie market and consequent take-overs and changes have seen renewed life in Cauldron Foods and Quorn, for instance, as well as sallies into the Heinz dominated market for baked beans in various sauces and spicy versions. Own brands have been less leaders in supermarkets and now the major manufacturers and retailers are in hot competition with new varieties reflecting Indian, Thai, and Mexican influences and offering promise and opportunities for veggies, many of whom make frequent recourse to palatable and digestible offerings based on beans.

3) However, Premier Foods and Branston’s , one of the brands in their collection (which has also taken over Cross and Blackwell), have increasingly fallen victim to the temptation of beefing up plant-based proteinaceous foods with by products left from meat and dairy industries or with alternatives to ingredients in the FSA red-light area of nutrient profiling (such as sugars, salt, fat and diary products) honey, maple syrup and lactose may add some value, but essentially they are just replacements for ingredients that may already be in excessive quantity even in current trends of reduction.

4) Vigilance on information on labels is essential and not just for veggies. The composition and the other information on “new” and genuine innovations are changing all the time in food markets now under the stresses of global supplies, demand and costs. Reactions among purchasers need to go beyond yes-or-no choices; they should prompt informed comment to Customer Services Departments, registering praise, comment , or dislike in the best interests of healthy competition and development.

5) Branston’s have announced this month their introduction of tinned soya beans and chickpeas sold in the familiar style for pinto beans. This looks good, especially for veggies. There being none of the new products on sale in VEGA’S local supermarket as we approach the beginning of a new month, we visited the appropriate websites, where –in good practice at least the information on the labels should be displayed. This was doubly disappointing because we had previously sought information form the Customer Services Department without success to the information by going out and buying products of the sorts we aimed at assessing. What a sauce!!!! We have been on fruitless errant. And there was no offer to phone back with the required information.

6) This is an apt example of retailer’s contempt for the customers regard for information on labels; and it also implies customers’ lack of interest and assessment of the quality of the product. The ignorance and indifference illustrate the haste and lack of care that shoppers’, especially those with special interests manifest in their purchases of food. For some years now we have been seeking for shoppers more facts than can be included on labels in small print almost illegible to products after they have been brought home. Some purchasers now buy on line; or they look up details of the availability and content before they set forth to the store –or even on which shelf or in which aisle the item is likely to be found.

7) We think that Branston’s new tinned beans satisfy the veggies’ requirements and hope that the firm will rapidly overhaul their website with the required facts; and that the website and other enquiries will record a good yield of visits. Turnover is brisk on supermarket shelves. It would be a pity if the shopper aiming at supporting the cruelty –free range – and s/he may not qualify as a consistent veggie – has to end the quest facing “a product discontinued” notice.


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