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How the Food Industry Meets the Demands of the Consumer CHARLES G. MORTIMER Chairman, General Foods Corporation My pleasure in participating in this symposium is two-fold. I not only appreciate the honor of representing the food industry on this program, but I am also delighted to have a part in such a timely presentation of a vital subject that is being approached so constructively. I want to compliment the Food Protection Committee of the National Academy of Sciences for staging today's symposium with the earnest objective that it serve as a public information device. My compliments, also, for inviting science and food writ- ers to attend along with representatives of medical, dental, public health, nutrition, and dietetic organizations. These communi- cators can be of immeasurable help in getting across to our nation's consumers the knowledge that is being shared hereâthe news of scientific contributions to changing production and proc- essing practices and, more importantly, the relation of these contributions to nutrition and public health. It is my deep conviction that Americans need understanding, as never before, about the abundance and wholesomeness and healthfulness of our food supply. And I believe that dissemina- tion of the information presented at this symposium can help create and build public awareness of the unmatched good which exists in our foods today. Increasing public understanding of the subject of today's meet- ing, "Science and Food: Today and Tomorrow," is a mission which engages my deepest interest at the present time. For I appear before you today not only as a food manufacturer but 63
also as president of The Nutrition Foundation, which is, as you know, the now 20-year-old manifestation of the food industry's continuing interest in problems of nutrition and public health. In that role I had the privilege of announcing not too many weeks ago a new and major step The Nutrition Foundation is taking toward increasing public understanding of the relation- ship between proper nutrition and good health. The Trustees of The Foundation have authorized an Informa- tion Program to bring to the general public knowledge about nutrition in lay terms. What we hope to accomplish is to make the subject of nutrition as understandable and meaningful as possible. The 52 present member companies of The Foundation see such an effort to educate the public as a responsibility in our own area. And it's only frank to say that we are motivated as well by enlightened self-interest. For we recognize the enormous stake the food industry has in the public health. We are undertaking this new venture to project and make use- ful to the general public some of the fine work accomplished by The Nutrition Foundation with the concept that it will provide an opportunity for The Foundationâand the food industry which supports itâto play an even more important role than heretofore as an instrumentality for serving the public interest. Because the general public needs continuing reliable information on the re- lationships between good food and good health, and assurance on the wholesomeness of the food supply, we see a continuing information program as filling a need that will render a valuable service, not only to the public, but also to research scientists and to agriculture. We view the program as a catalyst for uniting all segments of the food industry in a public service undertaking that is bound to redound to the credit of all who help sponsor it. We believe the Program may do much to combat the confusion which exists today because of the conflicting theories about nutrition which are being promulgated increasingly by food faddists and quacks. A positive, forthright approach can also help to allay public fears resulting from scare-heads about food additives, pesticides, radio-active fall-out, and other modern de- velopments. In fact, we believe the new Information Program could take us a long way toward achieving public understanding 64
of the topic of my remarks this afternoonâhow the food industry meets the demands of the consumer. A first step toward increased understanding will be, I hope, to bring home to Americans the realization that we have the best, the safest, the most varied food supply in the world. We must point up the obvious fact that today's urbanized living precludes each family from growing its own food; that in a society such as ours we just cannot have the abundance of healthful convenience foods we enjoy without the pesticides, fungicides, antioxidants, mold inhibitors, antibiotics, and other chemicals which can be usedâwith proper safeguards that eliminate any risk whatsoever to the public healthâin the growing, processing, and distribution of foods. Public awareness of the ways in which the food industry is using the latest scientific devices and techniques to bring to America's tables more and better foods will do much, I'm sure, to avoid the possibility of such things as the cranberry "scare" of a year ago. And it can also help check the creeping notion that additives are "badditives." We need to achieve consumer comprehension of why and how chemicals and additives are used in growing, processing, and storing our foods. The food industry, trying to shore up the confidence in America's food supply which we feel is merited, is heartened by some of the support it has received from govern- ment. You are all familiar, I am sure, with the booklet titled "What Consumers Should Know About Food Additives" which the Food and Drug Administration published earlier this year. Many of you may not have seen, however, a leaflet which came across my desk a few weeks ago that was prepared by the Division of Food Control of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. "Food AdditivesâFriends or Foes?" is its title, and readability is encouraged by bold type on the cover which notes that the leaflet contains just 825 words that can be read in three minutes with the end result ofâand I quoteâ"Peace of Mind." The gist of the pamphlet is in its last one-sentence paragraph which reads: "To answer the question: 'Food AdditivesâFriends or Foes?', we can definitely say, 'Welcome, friends!'" 65
The food industry is heartened, too, by the assistance and sup- port the Food Protection Committee of your National Academy of Sciences has given, by stating publicly that there need be no hazard in the use of chemical additives provided adequate scientific programs are carried out prior to use. The Committee has also stressed the fact that no reputable manufacturer would add any chemical to food when a hazard to the public health is involved. We look forward to your further help to emphasize again and again the fact that perhaps the greatest protection the public enjoys is the inherent sense of responsibility the food industry is demonstrating for the health of our people. We can certainly use all the support that can be mustered to get across to the con- suming public what should be an obvious fact: that food processors have a big stake in keeping consumers of their products in good health; that the millions of good, lively, healthy con- sumers we serve today are the customers we want to continue to serve for as many tomorrows as possible. An eye-opening example of the food industry's roleâand self- interestâin improving the public health was given to the Grocery Manufacturers of America at their Annual Meeting this year in an address by Dr. Frederick J. Stare, Chairman of the Depart- ment of Nutrition, Harvard University School of Public Health. Dr. Stare hypothesized a 45-year-old man whose life expect- ancy had been cut by a year and a half because he was 20 pounds overweight. To get that way, the man had given America's food industry a hundred thousand unnecessary calories' worth of busi- ness. But, Dr. Stare pointed out, had this man not consumed those additional calories, in the year and a half longer that he might have lived he would have been able to consume some 1,350,000 caloriesâor a net gain of more than one and a quarter million calories in food sales for this one person. Dr. Stare suggested that the audience multiply the extra calories that could have been sold by the number of adult men in the United States who, if they ate less, could live longer to eat more. The good doctor concluded that the food industry would have a "tremendous new market," and I certainly agree with him. We can take a long first step toward creating that tremendous 66
new market, I believe, by increasing public awarenessâeven among those not interested in nutrition as a scienceâthat eating is not something you do as instinctively as you breathe, that it is much more than just a habit. We must achieve much wider understanding among consumers that nutrition is a processâthe life process through which our bodies grow and are maintained and energized. Another challenge to the food industry is the still increasing mobility of America's population and its shifts to urban and suburban living. During the last few decades this changing America has motivated the entire food industry to accelerate its pace of innovation to a startling tempo. Even so, we see trends in today's living which point to further major changes in America's foods and eating habitsâand thus still greater chal- lenges for our industry. Let me review some of these with you. Women, particularly those who hold jobs outside the home, want to spend less time in the kitchen. One out of every three employed persons today is a women, and the number of women in the nation's work force has nearly doubled in the last 20 years. While this trend is by no means new to any of us, it does portend an ever-increasing demand for high-quality time-saving con- venience foods of the kind which have been accepted so enthusiastically by millions of homemakers. Their purchases are the best kind of evidence that they are happy to be freed from peeling, washing, cleaning, squeezing, mixing, and other pre- preparing of the food they serve three times each day. Although American homemakers have shown ready acceptance for convenience foods with "built-in maid service," all of us in the food industry know that convenience alone will not sell a food product to consumers. Homemakers have high standards of quality, taste, and nutrition as well as of convenienceâand they want all four values in every product. Instant coffee offers a good example. The first patent for an instant coffeeâthen called, by the way, a "dried cup of coffee"â was issued about the time of the Civil War. Yet it wasn't until after World War I that soluble coffee was commercially available. Measured by today's standards that product was pretty terrible stuff. But research and development finally produced a good- 67
drinking-quality soluble coffee after World War II. Today, more than one out of every three cups of coffee served in this country is made from the instant form. Then, too, there has been a substantial rise in the educational level of our whole population. This means that the housewife of tomorrow will be increasingly sophisticated in her selections and more alert to her family's nutritional requirements. Every day we in the food industry see clear indications that, while home- makers want foods that can be conveniently prepared and which take the drudgery and gamble out of cooking, they also want to make sure they maintain balanced diets for their families. More and more, consumers are relying on processors to build nutrition into their family diets, and those processors who enjoy the homemaker's confidence are stressing increasingly the nu- tritive value of their various foods. A new line of baby foods my company introduced earlier this year is, I think, a good case in point. We felt there would be a market for baby foods that are con- venient and easy to prepare and that still offer high nutrition combined with natural taste. So we developedâand are now marketing on a limited basisâa 23-item line of frozen instant baby foods which are being well received by pediatricians and mothers alike. These products are partially dehydrated and then frozen and are sold in aluminum foil envelopes, four to a boxâeach envelope equaling one average serving. The product can be home-stored under normal refrigeration. The contents of the envelopeâfree-flowing crystals to which water or milk is addedâ can be rehydrated right in the baby dish for instant and work-free serving. While this new baby food line is significant in itself because of its high nutritive content, fresh flavor, color, and vitamin re- tention, the process by which the new line is produced has broader interest to our industry, I believe. It is a combination of dehydration and freezing, and its success thus far holds promise that dehydro-freezing may well be applied to many other uses. Another low-temperature preservation process, not yet in commercial use because of its high cost, is "freeze drying." Here food is first quick-frozen, then dehydrated by sublimation under 68
high vacuum. When and if industry, government, and university research scientists combined lick the problem of present high cost of this process, I'm sure we shall see many freeze-dried foods on grocery shelves. As you scientists know, there are other new and promising food preservation techniques in various stages of developmentâ irradiation, antibiotics, ultrasonics, and so on. So it would be inappropriate for me, as a layman, to go into them. Let me, instead, point up two more trends in foods and eating habits which I believe will have a major impact on the food industry in the years to come. There has been a great deal of talk in recent years about our burgeoning population and how we are going to feed the world's growing millions. But overlooked by someâor perhaps I should say underestimatedâhas been the minor revolution that is taking place in the age distribution of that population and its potential effects on sales of food products. In the next five years, we are told, the group from 15 through 19 years of age will jump almost 30 per cent, against 9 per cent for our total population. By 1965, close to half of the people in the United States will be under 25. This change in age distribu- tion, together with the longer life span made possible by our advances in medicine, is bound to spell different nutritional re- quirements and taste preferences to be metâfoods especially suitable both for the very young and for our senior citizens. The last trend I would like to mention has to do with where people eat their meals. Perhaps you haven't noticed it in your family, but more people are eating out. Sales at eating places have risen almost 20 per cent in the last five years, but at the same time hotels, restaurants, and other institutions are finding it increasingly difficult to employ enough qualified help. Here, too, is an opportunity. Food processors, building on their knowledge in the frozen foods field, may find a way to offer an entirely new kind of service to an important group of con- sumers by supplying hotels, restaurants, hospitals, and so forth, with products where the services not only of the kitchen maid but of the dietitian and the chef as well are all built in at the factory. As a matter of fact, my own company is working on 69
this possibility of providing "chef service." We are still in the experimental stage, but I am able to tell you that we see the opportunity of providing the managements of hospitals, hotels, restaurants, schools, airlines, in-plant feeding establishments, etc., with a wide variety of appetizing, well balanced, nutritious meals in a way that will help them hold the line against increased preparation costs. By keeping abreast of trends such as those I have mentionedâ as well as other trends which come to light through market re- search activities, studies of shopping habits, talks with the food trade, and so onâthe food industry has been able to keep pace with consumer demands. But in our highly competitive business, keeping up with today's demands is by no means enough. We must be ever alert and sensitive to tomorrow's wants and needs. We must anticipate what homemakers will want as a logical next step in their insistence on better living, and we must develop products long before consumers actively want them. Let's make no mistake about it: The driving force behind filling consumers' food needs and wantsâand even trying to anticipate themâis the profit motive of aggressive individual commercial food processors. In the food business perhaps more than in any other, if you don't give your customers what they want when they want it, you can be sure your competition will. That is the very heart of our free enterprise system, which is an out-growth of the traditional democratic principle of individual freedom of choiceâand I, for one, wouldn't have it any other way. This business of continually trying to outguess the housewife herself on what she will want next calls for a great deal of free- dom, for the right climate in which to experiment, to invent, to innovate. It calls for the same type of freedom, for example, that the food industry enjoyed more than 30 years ago when quick- frozen foods were first introduced. My company's close connection with the frozen foods industry may color my opinion somewhat, I will admit, but to me the growth and development of quick-frozen foods demonstrates impressively what a new food preservation processâif permitted to make its own wayâcan mean to the nation's economy. You are all familiar with the story of frozen foods, I'm sure. But I want 70
to review it briefly to underscore my point that in the years ahead new facets in the business of feeding people can have tremendous impact on our way of life. The frozen foods that were introduced more than three decades ago were not just more new products to be added to the list of those being sold in the usual way through the usual channels. They were the end products of a wholly new food preservation process, and with their introduction entire new industries had to be created to produce, store, transport, and display them. . Quick-freezing equipment had to be designed, manufactured, and installed. . . Farm machinery had to be invented to harvest crops faster in order to retain farm-fresh flavor in the foods to be frozen. . . . New refrigerated warehouses capable of holding frozen foods had to be built. .... Trucks and railroad cars which could maintain frozen foods at zero degrees Fahrenheit had to be designed and constructed. Retail store freezers to keep and display the new products had to be developed and built. Freezer compartments had to be made an integral part of home refrigerators so that frozen foods could be stored by consumers. And, most importantly, consumers had to be per- suaded that this revolutionary new method of food preservation was in no way associated with the "cold storage" foods they disdained. The public had to be convinced that quick-frozen foods provided the advantages of prepared, ready- to-cook, garden-fresh fruits and vegetablesâwith quality and taste intactâat any season. What a boost to the nation's economy from just one new food preservation process. Thousands of jobs were created solely to 71
build and operate refrigerated freight cars and trucks, to set up storage and distribution systems. There was no such appliance as the home freezer. Frozen foods can take credit, I believe, for spawning that new major applianceâone that has achieved such popularity that there are 12,000,000 in use today. No one can, of course, predict that the same kind of dramatic impact will be made on our economy by any of the new methods of food preservation now on the horizon. But one sure, ever- lasting fact that is predictable is that the foods resulting from any process will be judged finallyâand found acceptable or wantingâ by our boss in the food business . . . the homemaker. The proving ground for how well the food industry is meeting the demands of consumers is always in the home kitchen. That's where the decision is made. When enough such favorable decisions are madeâwhen enough consumers can be persuaded to try a product and then continue to buy itâeconomical volume produc- tion becomes possible, thus bringing the unit price down to a good business level. We are aided in our goal of providing more and better foods at lower costs by our tremendous American middle class. Because great numbers of our citizens have incomes well above those required for the bare necessities, the American tradition of "trading up" has become an influence in foods as it has in other consumer goods. In this "trading up" process, consumers are more and more willingâeven eagerâto buy convenience, what in the food line has been called "time in a package." But appetite appeal and quality cannot be sacrificed to make a product convenient. And with the rising demand for higher nutritive values, it becomes apparent that food processors, to be successful, must build all these values into their products in order to satisfy our "Queen's" taste. I foresee a time when we will be catering to a society that will be much more calorie conscious, one in which foods will prevent, rather than combat, obesity and other forms of malnutrition. A reformation of American eating habits in this desirable direction should not be too difficult. 72
The essential nutrients are known and available to the food industry. We have already made good progress in upgrading nutrition by offering consumers satisfying products with built-in flavor, appetite appeal, ease of preparation, and, in some cases, even pre-seasoning and pre-cooking. Our task now is to convince people that by eating properly, by utilizing America's wonderfully varied food supply intelligently, they can add yearsâand zestâ to their lives. Our land is blessed, as no other ever has been, with a food supply that is by far the best in the history of man. We must learn to use it wisely ourselves, and we must also treat it not only as a blessing, but also as an opportunity, as we continue the battle against hunger, the crusade for better health. I hope you will agree the food industry's record of providing more and better foods to meet and even anticipate consumers' demands has been a creditable one so far. In the years ahead, we can reasonably expect to make it even better as a result of a clearer understanding of the vital role food plays in man's quest for peace. In a more highly educated, enlightened societyâgiven a climate of freedom which encourages invention, innovation, and creativenessâI am confident we will be successful. 73
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES- NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL The National Academy of SciencesâNational Research Coun- cil is a private, nonprofit organization of scientists, dedicated to the furtherance of science and to its use for the general welfare. The Academy itself was established in 1863 under a Con- gressional charter signed by President Lincoln. Empowered to provide for all activities appropriate to academies of science, it was also required by its charter to act as an adviser to the Federal Government in scientific matters. This provision accounts for the close ties that have always existed between the Academy and the Government, although the Academy is not a governmental agency. The National Research Council was established by the Academy in 1916, at the request of President Wilson, to enable scientists generally to associate their efforts with those of the limited membership of the Academy in service to the nation, to society, and to science at home and abroad. Members of the National Research Council receive their appointments from the President of the Academy. They include representatives nominated by the major scientific and technical societies, representatives of the Federal Government, and a number of members-at-large. Today the over-all organization has come to be known as the AcademyâResearch Council and several thousand scientists and engineers take part in its activities through membership on its various boards and committees. Receiving funds from both public and private sources, by contribution, grant, or contract, the Academy and its Research Council thus work to stimulate research and its applications, to survey the broad possibilities of science, to promote effective utilization of the scientific and technical resources of the country, to serve the Government, and to further the general interests of science.