British Meat Processors Association
British Meat Processors Association

How consumers perceive Ultra Processed Foods

The debate surrounding Ultra Processed Foods (UPFs) is hotting up, with the Chief Executive of Beyond Meat admitting in a recent shareholder briefing that the recent 30.5% drop in sales in the last quarter is partly due to a ‘change in perception’ amongst consumers that such foods are overly processed and unhealthy. He blames ‘interest groups who have succeeded in seeding doubt and fear around the ingredients and process used to create our and other plant-based meats’.

There’s no doubt that there are many foods (both meat and plant based) that are clearly ultra processed. But this does raise the question of whether or not the current classification system is fit for purpose, and provides an accurate guide for consumers. A new study in Food Quality and Preference journal concludes that people think the less processed the food, the healthier it is and that the NOVA classification of foods broadly reflects this perception.

But the NOVA system clearly has some flaws that need ironing out if it’s to be of any use to consumers. Their ‘Ultra Processed’ category includes carbonated soft drinks, sweet, fatty or salty packaged snacks, confectionery, mass produced packaged breads, biscuits and….beef burgers. As we know, these are generally minced beef plus less than 1% seasoning shaped into a patty. Apparently it’s the shaping that makes it ultra processed. Lucas Daglish will be tackling this issue in the August issue of Meat Management.

About BMPA

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) is the leading trade association for the meat and meat products industry in the UK.


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