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It seems that, in most cases, once a product has built a brand identity it will be bought by a big business, distributed to a wider market, then lose quality as costs are cut by replacing quality ingredients with cheaper imitations.
I suppose we consumers are at fault for believing the marketing. Why should monkeys drinking tea make us buy it? Anyone remember: Young chimp:’Dad, do you know the piano’s on my foot’, Old Chimp,’You hum it son, I’ll play it’.
Those who know tea think that the quality of the big brands has dropped dramatically over the last 20 years, and is why there are now some fantastic small, artisan producer, teas available.
Another example: We think Heinz ketchup is the best when there are now lots of really good high quality, and even healthy, ketchups available. As soon as we see the Heinz bottle and remember the brand, advertising, and some of the cheap catering ketchups available in a pub or take away, we conclude that Heinz is the best. If you have a blind tasting however, you soon recognise the difference.
For examples; I note the Dorset Cereals Muesli I bought recently does not have anything like the quantity of fruit and nuts it had before the family were bought out by Associated British Foods.
I have been told that Kraft have added Soy Lecithin to Green & Black chocolate since they bought it. This means it doesn’t melt in hot countries meaning one product fits all. This Soy Lecithin however could be GM yet the label still has the organic stamp.
If anyone has more examples please add them below.
What about examples of new products improving old established brands?
Does anyone remember Walkers advertising that they had changed to frying their crisps in sunseed oil? Sunseed is actually sunflower oil and had been used by Artisan Crisp producers like Kettle, Tyrell, Burts and Pipers for years before Walkers changed. And the reason? Palm oil had been used traditionally because it was cheap, but really bad for us.
I suppose, overall, the quality of our food is rising so I should be happy. I would prefer however not to see the marketing hype replace quality and why I am such a local obsessive. Local where you get the full story from the producer and most of your money is going to the producer rather than the retailer and middle men.
So please look around, ignore the big brands and try something new. Try your local farm shop, butcher and deli using our local food map and see what artisan products they sell to replace the complacent big brands. Or use our MarketPlace to find artisan producers. Including artisan; tea, ketchup, chocolate, cheese, coffee, etc.
And know that the more you buy the more you improve our quality for UK food & drink.