By Max Greenberg
I?ll have the Kraft Mac n Cheese w/Ketchup, PleaseUploaded: Mar 27, 2015
(Disclaimer: In case anyone hasn't deduced it yet, I am not a doctor, nutritionist, professional golfer or mutual fund investor.) Good news (it's about time) two of the largest non-food manufacturers in the world, Kraft Foods and Heinz Corp have announced a merger of the two multi-national lummoxes (my word, not part of the official corporate announcement.) The takeover by Heinz will create the world's fifth largest "food" and beverage company, Kraft Heinz, with combined revenue of $28 billion. (I personally kind of like "Heinz-Kraft" which denotes an old world sense of dedication and craftiness. But what do I know ? I'm not the creative marketing expert behind the billions spent in pushing, I mean marketing, these laboratory experiments.) That's a lot of Salad Cream (what the hay is salad cream?) One person we can thank for helping to make this takeover a reality is Mr Warren Buffet, who provided a lot of the cash to lubricate the merger wheels. Heinz is owned by a huge Brazilian concern, 3G Capital Partners.
The food landscape seems to be changing. Lots of news these days about Americans starting to choose to eat a little bit healthier. "The deal comes as Kraft and other major U.S. food makers struggle with changes in consumer tastes that have hampered their ability to sell packaged, processed food" comes from the article in the 3/26/15 WSJ. Everyone doesn't live in the Bay Area or other "enlightened" locations where the people have the means and easier access to information about how their health and well being is directly related to what they eat and drink. But even in more "remote" parts of the US, it's starting to happen, despite the claim by Kraft that its products are found in 98% of American households. And I think they may be right. I checked my cupboard and lo and behold, there was a Kraft Mac n Cheese sitting right there. Now the expiration date had passed about 15 years ago, but I can still be counted in the 98%. I will admit, I did feed my kids a lot of Mac n Cheese many moons ago. I assumed they were getting some carbs and nutritious cheese and a little milk. It was simple to make, in fact I think it was the first "meal" that we taught the kids how to cook for themselves. There's nothing I can do about the past, but I do feel bad about it now. But it makes me feel a little better reading this precious quote from Euromonitor International analyst Raphael Moreau: "Despite being quite iconic, these brands are losing their resonance with consumers?they like the brands, but they don't actually want to eat them."
It does come down to parental choice what we feed our kids, and ourselves. But it can be very hard to resist what the advertising industry calls "the nag factor" which is created and reinforced through direct advertising to our kids, who can become relentless in their pursuit of sugar, salt, grease etc. Now with this huge merger and the investment behind it, we can expect a new onslaught of clever marketing ploys to revive the public's thirst for these "household names." Ajax is a household name but I don't think most of us would feed it to our kids?
Better food through chemistry.