The Double-Edged Sword of Natural

The Double-Edged Sword of Natural

Since the dawn of man, we’ve been obsessed with food, and if you need evidence in this day and age, look no further than a millennial’s Instagram. Food has and will always be a means of survival, but for many, foods role has evolved from sustenance to enjoyment. Prominent trends such as Transparency, Veganism, Mindfulness, Freshness are at the forefront. One Master Trend overrules them all simplicity in food. We all win… Or do we? We’re in a race to the bottom of an ingredient list. We are removing as much over-processing as possible. These are all good things, but… In the process, an important equity has been lost – taste differentiation. Which is something Big Food always benefitted from.     And for decades, Big Food has built brands on the pleasure of taste… irreproducible, proprietary, unnatural but ultimately delicious taste. A locavore or organictarian, with a gun to its head, would choose an Oreo over a private label knockoff, no questions asked. A Dorito over a cheese flavored tortilla chip. A Coke over cola. Intensive food science, heavy processing and laboratories that double as “kitchens” gave way to these patented, competitive brand advantages. These fabricated flavors turned products into household names, and ultimately billion-dollar brands. Yet the same practice that built Big Food up, is now responsible for its demise and vilification. Less Ingredients + Less Processing + Less Engineering = Commodities. So the natural foods industry is now faced with answering the tough question of how do you democratize natural food without falling victim to the dreaded C-word; commoditization? How do you build a meaningful brand without the type of flavor differentiation Big Food benefitted...
Meeting the Team 06: Bridget

Meeting the Team 06: Bridget

Tell us a little about yourself. I was born and raised in Fairport, NY a small town outside of Rochester. I am one of the designers concepting and creating the packages designs that come from Interact. I was brought on as an intern about a year ago and these crazy people actually hired me full-time three months later! Why did you want to work in advertising / packaging design? When did you know it was what you wanted to do? I fell in love with packaging design my senior year of college while working on an assignment to package gumballs in a unique way. I love creating things that not only have to communicate clearly and quickly, but also have to stand out next to its competitors. Grocery design in particular has a special place in my heart because it has to do all of this and impacts EVERYONE whether they like it or not. Except those people that grow everything they eat themselves — good for them though! What was your first job coming out of college? This was. 🙂 I’d say I’m pretty lucky for that. I genuinely could not have asked for a better post college experience. Have you always been a creative person? I wouldn’t know how to answer this if my first grade teacher didn’t ask me 11 years later if I was an artist yet. So yeah I would say so. In kindergarten I was commissioned to draw Blue from Blue’s Clues A LOT. How did you get interested in design? My junior year of high school I took an “advertising design” class on...
Transitional Farms Spur Organic Farm Growth

Transitional Farms Spur Organic Farm Growth

The availability of organic foods continues to increase exponentially. Yet, despite double-digit growth in consumer demand for organic foods every year since the 1990s, organic acreage has not kept up, according to the U.S.D.A. In fact, less than 1% of U.S. farmland is certified organic. (Food Business News) So, how can the supply begin to meet the demand? It all comes back to needing more organic farms. This proves to be more complicated than one might think, as a farm must undergo a process that requires meeting USDA Organic standards for three years before qualifying to convert from conventional to organic. This causes a lot of economic uncertainty for farmers, but some companies are taking steps to incentivise them.   Kashi’s “Certified Transitional” program guarantees that certain products will utilize grains for transitional farms, in hopes to convert more farms to organic throughout the country. The Dark Cocoa Karma Cereal utilizes wheat from transitional farms exclusively, and Kashi continues to integrate more transitional ingredients into more products. The packaging design doesn’t differ much from other products from the brand, but the mark for “Certified Transitional” is proudly displayed along with “Non-GMO” and “Fair Trade” certifications. In 2015, Clif Bar made an agreement with one of its growers to transition their farm from conventional to organic, offsetting the cost by agreeing to purchase the crops for seven years after receiving organic certification. The company also bought the farm’s “transition period” crops. Bigger companies like White Wave Foods and Costco are reported to be following suit by utilizing transitional ingredients, so we are likely to see more foods labeled as “Certified...
Trends Spotted in the Netherlands

Trends Spotted in the Netherlands

Ever wonder what the inside of a shop inside Amsterdam looks like? Now you can get a little taste! Our intern Sydney took a trip to the Netherlands recently, and she took some snaps of awesome packaging that she saw. Here are a couple trends she spotted abroad. JUST ADD ______   There were a lot of pre-packaged goods that combined ingredients for ready made drinks and snacks. Teas with sweetener loaded onto a spoon waiting to be mixed into a cup of hot water were a favorite. “Festival in a Bottle” was an innovative way to add some excitement to a plain bottle of liquor with dehydrated fruits and spices. And for a delightfully simple mix-it-yourself refreshment, there were kits that included everything you’d need for a fresh gin & tonic.     QUITE THE CHARACTER The Dutch are embracing bright and bold colors, in contrast the modern packaging we typically see in the States. These eye-catching hues were seen in shelves all over stores. There were chocolate bars that sported vibrant, contrasting patterns that worked together in perfect chaos. In addition, there were a lot of whimsical illustrations and characters – even in products that aren’t necessarily marketed toward children. The shifty eyes on bottles of Karma Kombucha couldn’t be ignored when walking past the refrigerated section!      IN THE SPIRIT OF TRANSPARENCY One trend that’s clearly a hit across cultures is transparency – both in the literal, visual execution of packaging solutions, but also in the key messaging that brands are sending. The desire to eat “clean” has spurred a movement that pushes companies to lay everything out on the table – particularly ingredients. It...
The Growth of Nut and Seed Butters

The Growth of Nut and Seed Butters

Peanut butter is a classic protein packed snack that’s versatile enough to be combined with just about anything. For a long time, it was the only kind of nut butter that people knew of. With constantly evolving consumer dietary needs, we’ve seen a boom in “butters” made from all kinds of different nuts and seeds. Here are a few aspects of this growing category that brands are taking into account: Source PRESENTATION The demand for peanut butter alternatives has resulted in an influx of “butters” made from ground almonds, cashews, pistachios and more. Often at a higher price point, it is common to see companies touting the healthy benefits of their product. Nutraw’s pistachio butter features packaging that is more elevated than what you might associate with a typical peanut butter jar, reflecting the minimal ingredients (stripped down to just pistachios, coconut oil and vanilla). Similarly, butters are increasingly being made from seeds – even ones you may not have ever thought to eat. Sunflower and pumpkin seed butters have been heralded as friendly options for consumers with nut allergies. Watermelon seed butter is unconventional yet intriguing. Sakara’s version appeals to consumers based on its aesthetic alone. The cream colored product is complemented by equally clean packaging, suggesting its simplicity and quality. Source INCLUSIONS Inclusions and unique flavors set brands apart in this ever growing category. Sesame seed butter is traditionally known as tahini, a main ingredient in hummus, but it’s making its way more and more into the butter category. Ilka’s Chai Sesame Butter appeals to create a more memorable and unique experience when spread over toast or fruit. Big Spoon Roasters also offer various nut butter flavors, like Espresso and Vanilla...
Interact Category Specialists: Cookies & Candy

Interact Category Specialists: Cookies & Candy

As consumers grow more health-conscious, one might think that the cookie and candy category has seen its heyday. But has it? A revolution of alternative solutions for how we satisfy sweet cravings is underway – be it for advanced palates, discerning sweet tooth’s, or health conscious foodies.   GROWN-UP FLAVOR PROFILES As candy and cookie lovers have grown up, so have their tastes! With more adventurous palates, consumers are leaning toward sweet foods with exotic and complex tastes, often with contrasting flavors such as sweet, spicy and salty. These unexpected flavors are coming from all directions. Big brands like Toll House, Oreo, and Ghirardelli are releasing flavors like blueberry lemon, jelly donut, and bourbon caramel. Smaller brands like Little Secrets, Chuao and Smash Mallow now offer flavors like pumpkin pie, spicy maya and lemon chia seed.     PREMIUM SWEETS Sharper looking brands excite and inspire consumers by standing out in busy retail environments. As this category becomes more competitive, innovative sweet brands must not only provide solutions for a limited retail space, but also tell more of a story than their CPG counterparts. Small batches and niche followings give premium bakers and confectioners the flexibility to try new things without much risk. The demand for premium sweets is at an all-time high, with provenance and origin being key to their stories. We are seeing plenty of brands are adapt to consumer desires through elevated product positioning.   BETTER-FOR-YOU INDULGENCE Ultimately, consumers want to have their healthy food and eat their cookie, too. If you ask the average person whether he or she wants to eat healthier, the answer is almost always yes. However, not everything associated with cookies is trending toward Crossfitters and marathoners....