Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Great Food Revolution - CBC documentary

I just finished watching a documentary on television called "The Great Food Revolution" on the CBC. I watched the second of four episodes of this series - The Battle to Get on Your Plate!

The documentary started out in Jungle Jim's - a gigantic grocery store just outside Cincinnati. I had the pleasure of visiting Jungle Jim's when I visited my sister in Cincinnati a couple of years ago. I have to say that I was overwhelmed with the sheer variety in the store. It was like being in an amusement park where you buy groceries. I was pleasantly surprised that the doc started with this food store.

At the heart of this episode was how brands and companies battle to get consumers to spend money on their products. Watching the episode, we got to see a glimpse into the process of developing new products for Loblaws. I have to say, watching this process unfold - from traveling the globe, to tasting products at home, to developing and pitching new recipes, to having the recipes produced for the market - I was mesmerized. I wonder if I could apply to be a product tester at Loblaws? I would love to try potential new products and provide my feedback. I think I have a fairly good palate and a good idea of what people generally like and dis-like.

The marketing of new foods was also discussed. In this case, Toscano pizza. I have to say, I think the best way to get someone to buy a new food product is to give them a free sample. This is what Toscano Pizza did at GO stations in Toronto. It doesn't surprise me that techniques like this would work - after all, if I try something and like it, I am more likely to purchase that when I go shopping because I believe in the taste.

Next we move to Hard Bite Potato Chips. I have personally tried these chips (after seeing them on The Dragon's Den) and I have to say, these are not bad! I was actually a little concerned about the name because I thought they would be too hard, but they are great! I like the fact that I'm buying something from a small Canadian company and I like the way they are manufactured. It's interesting to hear how hard the fight was for Hard Bite to get on the shelves of grocery stores. Companies pay for space on the shelves and the better the placement, the more the cost to the food manufacturer.

Watching this documentary really made me wish I could be part of the food industry. I'm not sure I want to try and beat the odds of getting a personal product on the shelf (I make a mean breakfast cookie and people have suggested I sell my healthful butternut squash brownies). But wouldn't it be fascinating to have a say in what goes on the shelf in grocery stores?

The show ended with a segment about local produce and local foods (something I blogged about recently). I know there has been some controversy about the whole "eat local" movement. I agree with supporting local industries but I'm still not sold this way of eating results in a smaller carbon footprint. Right now, I'm ready to generally keep my shopping the same, but if I see something grown locally, I will usually select that over an import.

I can't wait to see next week's episode. If anyone from Loblaws reads this and has an inside scoop on getting an invite to try out the new Loblaws foods, please drop me a line!

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