Organic Articles: A Tale of Two Brands

The Organic Consultancy

A Tale of Two Brands

Simon Wright
The Organic Consultancy

This article originally appeared in the August 2002 edition of Organic Business.

Captain Birdseye is back! And he’s fretting about the health of his little shipmates. “I’m worried about the fact that kids these days aren’t growing up big and strong. The food kids eat is so important. Everything in my range is not just tasty, it’s wholesome hearty food too”. Birds Eye are playing the nutrition card in an attempt to grow their share of the 396 million kids frozen food sector. So the new range contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives: unhydrogenated sunflower oil is used throughout: strict nutritional guidelines of less than 13g total fat, 4g saturated fat and 0.3g sodium per serving. There is even the worlds first Sustainable Fish Finger, made from New Zealand Hoki rather than over-fished cod.

Some good work here from Birds Eye, only partly-undermined by their claim that the new range represents “The First Ever Totally Wholesome and Nutritious Range of Kids Frozen Food”. I can think of several natural and organic frozen food companies who would dispute that claim. I asked the MD why they hadn’t really made waves and taken the good Captain organic. The answer was along the lines that they’d looked at it, too complicated, maybe later…a great shame and a missed opportunity.

No such shilly shallying in the new Organic Brands manifesto, which is the most militant statement of intent I have ever seen a food company produce. Few food industry CEO’s other than Lizzie Vann would stand behind statements such as “We intend to use our profits to create change in our industry and in a wider society…we are not interested in market share for its own sake…profit is the oxygen of our company but not the reason we exist”. Organix Brands appears to be evolving from a well-respected brand of organic baby food into a campaigning body almost akin to Oxfam whilst aspiring to become ‘the favourite children’s food brand’.

So two very different takes on how to improve child nutrition – big multinational vs outspoken independent, evolution vs revolution, slow and steady vs fast and risky. Which approach is correct ? Maybe both. 8m of Birds Eye marketing spend will ensure that parents start thinking about what goes into the food their children are eating. If these same parents continue thinking about food quality, unnecessary additives and sustainability then with a little encouragement they might begin to buy the organic products created by Organix Brands. Have Birds Eye found a Treasure Chest or opened Pandora’s Box ?

Simon Wright
The Organic Consultancy