On Tuesday, The Huffington Post reported on a new trend in food marketing that has emerged out of growing consumer demand for less processed food. It has nothing to do with actually making food less processed. But it has everything to do with making food look less processed.
McDonald's, Kraft Foods, and other companies that sell processed foods have increasingly moved toward a more homemade look. For Kraft, that meant spending two years perfecting a method for slicing its Carving Board turkey unevenly and "oven-toasting" the edges of the slices using caramel coloring. At Wendy's, square hamburger patties were traded for patties with a less geometrical shape.
The changes are meant to attract customers who would be turned off by food that looks too machine-made. As research studies and media focus increasingly on the health risks of processed food, that's a growing number of people. And that's where the strategy of some food companies comes in: customers are likely to buy food with a natural or homemade aesthetic, under the impression that it's more wholesome.
Despite growing consumer consciousness, consumption of processed food has actually increased. The past five years have seen the packaged food industry increase by 14 percent and the fast-food industry by 13 percent, reports The Huffington Post, citing research by Euromonitor International.
It seems like a contradiction. But muddling the appearance of processed and unprocessed foods adds to a list of reasons—many of them economic—that the statistic has become a reality.