Dairylogue

CULTURE CLASH
I’ve always thought it is slightly disheartening that sometimes in our industry we must sneak in the back door when providing consumers with information about healthier products.
Probiotic cultures are a perfect example. Because it was the determined that consumers weren’t open to the message about “good bacteria,” yogurt makers began simply including Lactobacillus acidophilus with the label claim “live and active cultures.”
Now consumers implicitly understand live cultures mean “good for you” and voilà — there is a formidable educational push about “good bacteria,” with Dannon’s Activia leading the way.
While I find it ironic that consumers are kept in the dark about health benefits of products they are already eating, I also find it discouraging that the general populace is not seeking such valuable information.
There are exceptions. The consumer base for Stonyfield Farm’s products is largely made up of organic loyalists who tend to be more investigative about food. For years the company has had an extensive Web education program about the probiotic cultures contained in its yogurt products.
For consumers at large, I hope the tide is turning. As “food as medicine” is rapidly becoming a viable health approach for more Americans, I am optimistic that the messages about foodstuffs such as probiotics will be more easily assimilated into the average consumer mindset.
After all, consumers are losing out on the possibilities that may already be in their hands.