Simplicity

One of twelve strategies developed in the Trust Study, with the goal of helping consumers eat more healthfully and sustainably.

The Trust Study

In collaboration with EIT Food, Future of Food Institute conducted a study to gain a deeper understanding about consumer attitudes towards the food chain, and particularly the role trust plays in that relationship.

One of the outcomes of this study is a set of twelve strategies, co-created together with European participants in the Citizen Participation Forum 2020. 

One of these strategies is Simplicity.

What is Simplicity?

Many consumers often feel that food is complicated; they don’t understand how products are made or that food contains ingredients they are unfamiliar with. However, people would like to be able to understand what they are eating, how it’s made, and where it came from.
Wouldn’t it be great if more food was only made from simple ingredients that everyone knows, using known and simple procedures that can be highly trusted? This would make choosing ‘good’ food a lot easier.

What does Simplicity look like?

  • Food only made from ingredients that are known
  • Simple and understandable ways of producing food
  • Packaging that emphasises the absence of undesirable ingredients
  • Checked by independent, well-known organisations.

Manufacturers need to reduce and replace undesireable ingredients from products and simplify the ingredients list. They need to be able to explain
every step in the production and logistic process.

Authorities are viewed as the main “gatekeeper”, responsible for keeping unnatural ingredients away from our food chain. Authorities are also the
end responsible when it comes to clear communication of ingredients.

What’s the catch?

For this strategy to work, the following points need to be taken into account:

Scarcity

Not all products we are currently using can be substituted by simple products. It would decrease the number of choices consumers have. This would mainly be a problem if cheaper foods were to be replaced by more expensive variants.

Information overload

More information does not necessarily mean better insights. Information must be presented in ways that consumers can easily interpret, for example by using logos or colour schemes.

What did community members say about this?

“I like the simplicity in the sense of knowing the simple, basic ingredients, as being the ones I can find in my kitchen and not in a wizard’s apprentice lab who wants me to believe that full of chemical ingredients and weird names is better for me, for the taste or for my health.”
Olivier, 54, France


“I know some very regular things that we use have some chemically sounding names, but that’s after research. I would like it if foods were made from scratch and does not have extra additives. Also don’t have 5 different types of sugars and then magically call it sugar free.”
Johanna, 37, Iceland


“The world grows more complex in all areas of life and I think that people finally get tired of all the options and there simply isn’t time to become familiar with everything going on around us. Simplicity is what we need more and more.”
Marja-Liisa, 56, Finland

Best practices: who is already doing this?

Upfront

Upfront is a rapidly growing company with a clear mission: simplicity in the world of food. Their goal is to provide clear information for consumers, so that they can make their own decisions.  

Not only with the ‘upfront’ packaging design of their products they strive for transparancy, on their social media they share their critial view as well. Upfront approves or denies food products, compares different produts and improves the packaging designs, all to prove what good marketing can do with unhealthy products. 

Albert Heijn’s Fresh Purée Soup

Supermarket chain Albert Heijn sells fresh
packages with the exact amount of vegetables
to make soup. Convenient does not necessarily mean super processed, but it can still be healthy.

Our mission is to help accelerate the transition to a more sustainable food system, by including the consumer as equally relevant stakeholder.

We offer accessible and clear consumer insights that help all actors in the food chain to effectively support & seduce the consumer to make the sustainable food choice.

Laan van Meerdervoort 36 - 2517AL - Den Haag - The Netherlands - Info@futureoffood.institute