elephantYears back, the brilliant Howard Moskowitz wrote a book called “Selling Blue Elephants.” It’s an ideation exercise centered on Rule Developing Experimentation, an approach to systematic variation that seeks to determine consumer desires—even before they happen. It’s the proverbial golden goose—analytical trend prediction before said trend surfaces. The product-development framework it puts forward has an evergreen quality that smartly serves all benchtop conceptual development.

Phil Lempert, the “Supermarket Guru,” also brought elephants front-and-center in his recent presentation at this year’s Snaxpo, held March 28-31 in Orlando, FL. His visualization employed an elephant as a motif for trends. When you’re behind the elephant, chasing it with bow and arrows on hand, all you can do is shoot it in the rear as it keeps on plodding ahead. You’ve missed your chance. The trick to success, he noted, is to get ahead of the elephant, dig a pit and catch it.

And we’re all familiar with the blind men and the elephant. Each one touches a particular part of the elephant within easy reach, and then they subsequently compare notes to hypothesize the distorted reality of their situation. But each story—while analytically valid—conflicts with the next because none of them can take in the complete reality of the beast.

But make no mistake. When there’s an elephant in the room, everyone should pay strict attention—especially when that elephant lies down for a long rest.

The current elephant in the room for the food industry is “better-for-you.” A countless stream of reasons exist as to why it’s there on the floor. And this behemoth isn’t going anywhere.

The origins are sound. We need to eat more whole grains. Fruits and vegetables should cover more of the plate than anything else. Lowering fat, sodium and sugar just make sense.

But consider farm-to-fork. Clean label. Sustainability. Organic. Natural. Even gluten-free. They all have ties back to better-for-you, regardless of scientific validity.

Every event I attend these days devotes time and energy to ingredients, equipment, processes and the subsequent products related to improving the nutritional profile of snacks and baked goods. We’re living longer. Obesity looms large. Our aging population requires dietary solutions to maximize their remaining days, and subsequent generations likewise understand this reality. Just as sustainability has indoctrinated itself into our way of thinking, better-for-you is here to stay.

It isn’t always boldly announced on the front of packaging. Sometimes it should be, sometimes it shouldn’t. And it generally shouldn’t increase the purchase price. It’s just part of doing business these days. Just as environmental sustainability and conscious corporate culture is a reality for the Millennials, better-for-you is the clarion call for the undefined future. It’s the price of doing business these days.

At Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, we understand the weight of this particular elephant. Better-for-you is a permanent part of our Snack & Bakery Solutions resource at www.snackandbakery.com/solutions. It’s built into almost every piece of content we develop. That elephant is impossible to ignore.

 Sure, we’re a contradictory culture. We don’t always do exactly what we say. Outright indulgence will continue to play a part of our businesses. But ignoring that elephant is risky.