Home Christian Lifestyle Healthy Living The Nutrition Wars and Downfall of Big Food By Dr. Mercola

The Nutrition Wars and Downfall of Big Food By Dr. Mercola

6 min read

As consumer food preferences are rapidly changing, with more people looking for and buying healthier foods, the food industry is struggling to come up with a coordinated response to win back consumer confidence and recoup sagging sales. As noted by Politico,1 “As legacy brands lag, food companies have two options: Change to compete or buy up the new brands that are already growing rapidly.”

Nestlé’s recent departure from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the largest and most powerful lobbying group for the processed food industry, is just one piece of evidence signaling the development of a deep rift within the industry. According to the featured article, “Long the attack group for large companies like Kraft and General Mills on legislative and regulatory issues, GMA now has members like Nestlé opposing some of its positions.”2 Mars Inc. has also confirmed it will not renew its membership with GMA.3

Leaving the GMA is not the only way Nestlé is changing. The processed food giant recently purchased Atrium Innovations — the Canadian parent company of the organic supplement brand, Garden of Life — for $2.3 billion.4 Garden of Life is said to make up the largest chunk of Atrium’s annual sales. The irony of the buyout is pretty obvious. As noted by Reuters,5 “Nestlé [is] expanding its presence in consumer health care as it seeks to offset weakness in packaged foods.” Atrium will become part of the Nestlé Health Science division, which already sells nutritional products. The purchase reflects Nestlé’s new “strategic priority,” namely consumer health.

GMA Losing Key Members

Other major players have also chosen to part ways with GMA, suggesting Big Food is in fact starting to pay attention to consumers’ demand for honesty and transparency. Three years ago, I wrote about how the GMA was suing states for the right to deceive you, and how it got caught laundering money during the Washington campaign to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The association was ultimately fined a record $18 million for its illegal side-stepping of the state’s campaign finance laws, but by then the damage was already done and Washington did not get the votes required to enact GMO labeling. (The GMA has contested the guilty verdict, so the legal wranglings are not yet over.)

Story at-a-glance

  • People are becoming increasingly cognizant of the connection between food and health, and are seeking out healthier fare. They’re also paying closer attention to labeling, favoring companies that provide clear disclosures
  • The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which was found guilty of money laundering and has fought hard against GMO labeling across the U.S., has lost some of its most prominent members, including Nestlé and Campbell’s
  • Food industry rifts have also become evident in the field of nutrition, with dietitians who support organics saying they’re being publicly shamed and harassed by their more industry-friendly peers
  • Online incivility has gotten so bad among dietitians, the American Dietetic Association published social media guidance for its members and is urging dietitians to sign a pledge of professional civility
  • To increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, Partnership for a Healthier America has launched a fruits and vegetable campaign (branded as FNV) to improve public perception and acceptance of real food

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