Food marketing revisited

Regular readers will know I have a serious beef about brand marketing of food products in particular, and almost any consumer product in general.  So I make no apology for returning to this frequent theme with yet more examples of misleading descriptions.

The example that sparked this blog was a brand of cheese, though you will also know that I have a thing about proper cheese rather than the packaged blocks of soap that generally masquerade as cheese.  But nonetheless, for cooking and general use it will do as a cheaper, though not that much cheaper, alternative (frequently overpriced but with promotions to reduce it to the price it should have been originally.)  The descriptions on packaging for such products are frequently eye-opening and ironic, not least given the reality that they have been manufactured in a factory and have been nowhere near the open countryside at any time, other than on either side of a motorway as they are shipped to outlying regional distribution centres.  Since every brand makes dubious claims it seems churlish to single one out, but take this as a prime example of marketing speak and apply to any brand you care to see.

The one that particularly caught my eye on this occasion  had a label with big lettering” “Seriously Strong (r)” cheddar.   Now the point of marketing language is to evoke memories and positive associations, and there is no doubt that this one brought back a strong memory for me of my mother buying cheese at a stall at Stockport market, where she would often buy what was termed “Sharp Cheshire”, which we would all sample before the purchasing decision was taken.  Sharp Cheshire was precisely that – it metaphorically blew your socks off.  I’ve seldom if ever tasted a stronger English hard cheese.

So then, imagine the disappointment when “Seriously Strong” cheddar turns out neither to be serious nor strong –  it tastes artificial, as if created from a range of flavourings to please a focus group; in fact, not to put too fine a point on it, this is a slightly bland cheese with a cloying and unpleasant metallic aftertaste (which is the “strong” part of the claim, presumably.)  Contrast this with the traditional craft of cheese making where the cheese is nurtured by a skilled cheesemaker, and bought for the quality, maturity and natural flavour.

Two questions are begged in my mind:

  • By whose authority can the registered trademark of “seriously strong” be given to a product which, objectively, is not what it claims to be?
  • Why do we, the consumers, allow something as essential as good food to be commodotised by the marketeers and packaged in ways nature never intended?

While you ponder those questions, consider some more stupid marketing blurb on food products. You can’t trust what they tell you about nutrition and the manufacturers say dumb things to push at the boundaries of the law in saying things that patently aren’t true.  I’d like to think we would give them all the cold shoulder until they change their practices, but we consumers are way too lazy and set in our ways.  Shame 🙁

For cheese read any mass-manufactured food product you care to name.  The marketing creates an artifice to persuade you to buy products you would never otherwise want nor need.  We could easily live without them, if we chose to cook and eat good fresh ingredients, making a little time to create batches of food that would slip easily into the freezer, for example.  For the fact that we are sold bad products that con us is our own fault.



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