Monday, February 25, 2013


The strength of the often maligned food industry lies in its power to innovate as per the demand of the consumer but a major segment of this sector, knowing fully well that what they are doing is not justifiable measured by any yardstick ignore consumer susceptibilities in pursuit of quick money at high rate of returns to their investment. But a time has come when the industry cannot ignore the consumer community any more and it can afford to refuse to change this attitude only at its own peril. It is a question of time before the governments all over the world start putting stringent restrictions to force the change in favor of the citizens. As yet another new year has dawned, many pundits warn that time is running out for the industry to mend its ways. The three most challenging issues that will confront the stake holders in this food "game" are considered to be cutting down food wastes, humane animal handling including raring them and more transparent labeling for better understanding of the products offered. Here is an observation by one of the critics regarding these issues.

"This year we saw the "end" of Twinkies, the explosion of caffeinated foods, and even DIY marshmallows. But in my opinion, three food issues of great importance finally made it into mainstream American consciousness in 2012, giving us hope for real change in the food system.  Food waste, humane animal treatment (including antibiotic use) and food labeling all took the leap and are now common household topics. And in all three cases, people are using the Internet and a host of apps to discuss these topics, to educate the public and to inspire each other to act, and buy, better."

Though it has been in the public realm most pundits agree that the food waste could be as high as 35-50% of production globally, precious little could be achieved in reducing such colossal waste, in spite of the ground reality that almost 30% of the world population go to bed hungry due to uncertain accessibility to basic foods. Similarly the failure of Californian voters to force the industry to improve the labels through more transparent disclosure does not lessen the gravity of the labeling crisis that is confronting the consumers. Reports after reports, the pitiable conditions in thousands of animal and poultry farms and the inhuman way they are handled and butchered can put to shame even the fiercest beast, namely the Lion which does not have any feeling towards its prey! These three problems will definitely come to the fore during the year 2013 and one can only hope that significant progress will be achieved in all these areas through the sustained efforts of consumer activists and animal protectionist organizations. 


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