Saturday, June 5, 2010


There is a belief that cheaper the food, worse will be its nutritional quality. Probably there may be some truth in such a perception. It is common sense that the price of any product can be brought down by replacing costly ingredients with low cost replacements with inferior credentials. For example in a product containing costly Almonds as one of the ingredients, the cost of the final product can be brought down either by using lesser levels of Almond or partially substituting it with other nuts or using artificial Almond essence to compensate for lower level of this expensive ingredient. Same applies to any food that has to be made cheaper compared to its standard counterpart. This question must be upper most in the minds of the consumers when the international Mexican fast food chain introduced a cheap meal for just USD 2 recently.

"Today Taco Bell introduces its new $2 Meal Deals, which includes: A choice of one of four taco or burrito entrees, a medium soft drink, and a bag of Doritos ...Call me elitist, but I'm calling BS on this marketing ploy: One low-quality taco, one cup of watered-down sugar water, and one bag of chips aren't in any way, shape, or form a "meal." Yes, the down economy has hit people hard, and diners are clamoring for cheap eats. But just because you can buy something for $2 doesn't mean you should. In the case of the Beefy 5-Layer Burrito (one of the featured entrees included in the deal), $2 gets you 550 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 1,640 mg of sodium -- and that's before the chips and soda! You know what? Looking at it this way, $2 seems high to me! Why would you spend any of your hard-earned money on low-quality crap with practically zero nutritional value?"

While the feat is considered quite revolutionary and timely under the prevailing economic atmosphere, the health aspect seems to have been ignored as can be seen by the above report. In a country like the US where fresh fruits and vegetables are priced high, the temptation for many low income consumers to go for the USD 2 meal must be irresistible. Low quality meat (probably ground offal from Abattoirs), cheap fat source, plenty of salt (which is any how costs practically nothing), HFCS based soft drinks (which are cheaper than drinking water) and mass produced potato chips which go in designing such a meal will be a disaster if allowed to be marketed without changing its nutritional profile. As for taste, any product containing 22 g of fat per serving can be expected to be a hit amongst many consumers. Taco Bell has established the cardinal truth that if one is looking for healthy food there is no way it can be obtained cheap, especially in a country like the US, sending the message loud and clear that remaining healthy is an expensive proposition under the prevailing market environment.

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