Canned Food Advisory Symposium

New York, NY – April 6, 2005 – The Canned Food Alliance (CFA) staged a day-long Symposium yesterday at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) with some of today’s leading chefs, food writers, researchers, policy makers and nutritionists to discuss new findings, recipes and trends in today’s canned food marketplace.  The result – an informative and open dialogue about the many modern day benefits and appeal of canned food and its role in the American diet for years to come.

“From convenience and taste to nutrition, canned food has long had a well-deserved place at the table,” said Canned Food Alliance Director Rich Tavoletti.  “The learnings culled from the 2005 Canned Food Symposium will play a critical role in shaping the future of the canned food marketplace.”

Canned Foods:  Inside the Beltway, On the Shelf and In the Kitchen

The symposium kicked off with a panel discussion, “Inside the Beltway, On the Shelf and In the Kitchen,” with a focus on the highly publicized 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and implications for the industry.  The discussion featured commentary from Lisa Katic, RD, president of K Consulting;

Robert Earl, MPH, RD, senior director for nutrition policy at the Food Products Association;

Constance J. Geiger, PhD, RD, CD, president of nutrition policy consulting firm Geiger & Associates; along with nationally recognized dietitian Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS and author of the 365 Days of Healthy Eating from the American Dietetic Association. 

The discussion pointed to clear synergies between good health and canned foods as a go-to source for rich nutrients:

  • Katic discussed canned foods’ changing role as related to past, present and future dietary guidelines.
  • Earl provided an industry perspective on challenges and opportunities for food marketers and how they can get out ahead of federal recommendations.
  • Geiger provided insights on how consumers perceive and react to product labeling changes and health claims.

Duyff then focused on the opportunities for canned foods in helping busy, health-focused consumers follow the recommendations of the dietary guidelines.

“Canned foods offer convenient, flavorful choices for stepping up to healthful eating – and following today’s healthy living advice,” said Duyff.  “That’s why many nutrition experts recommend that Americans give their families “easy access” to a broad range of nutrient-rich foods.  One smart strategy to do that:  stock the pantry with a variety of canned fruits, vegetables, beans, chicken and fish.”

What America Eats

The Symposium also featured an interactive luncheon with noted Food Network chef, Tyler Florence, kicked off by commentary from Fran Carpentier, senior editor of PARADE Magazine, about the changing palate of America.  As part of her work, Carpentier oversees the special section

What America Eats,” an annual snapshot of U.S. eating habits.  In her discussion, she used key findings of the most recent issue to talk about Americans’ changing expectations for food.  

This year’s “What America Eats” survey highlighted consumers’ continued desire for convenience.  Interestingly, Americans seek to spend less time cooking – yet still want the flavors, tastes and textures of "home-cooked" meals.  In addition, Carpentier discussed PARADE survey findings that underscored consumers’ current understanding of nutrition issues – and how it impacts their food choices:

The No. 1 change Americans have made in their diets over the last year is reducing portion size (45 percent); 40 percent are eating low-fat foods, while 31percent are reducing overall calories.

One in five Americans – down from one in three last year – is dieting to lose weight.  These calorie-counters want to lose an average of 38 pounds. One in three Americans would like to shed 50 pounds or more.

To slim down, in the last two years 39 percent of us have tried the Atkins Diet, 23 percent joined Weight Watchers and 12 percent tried the South Beach Diet.

About four in 10 Americans are eating fewer sweets (41 percent), potatoes (43 percent), pasta (40 percent) and bread (39 percent). Half are eating more complex carbohydrates, including vegetables (50 percent), salad (49 percent) and fruits (47 percent).

Great Taste in Half the Time

Just as consumers’ perceptions of eating convenience foods have changed, so has cooking with canned food.   Tyler Florence, host of several Food Network television shows, including “Food 911” and “How to Boil Water” showed attendees how to make a savory, yet hassle-free lunch in a lively, hands-on interactive cooking demonstration.

As the host and author of an array of shows and books, Florence is best known as a champion for uncomplicated recipes, bright flavors and great food, which he believes is the type of cooking that, comes from a "real kitchen," a place dedicated to culinary honesty.  He has traveled the world in search of ways to revive America's favorite foods and to provide Americas with the knowledge they need to make easy dishes with a global flair.

“As a chef, I use convenience foods because they’re a timesaver and bring global flavors to my kitchen any time of year,” said Florence. “My pantry is loaded with versatile canned products like tomatoes that remind me of the Italian sunshine.”

The lunch menu featured a first course of Spicy Chicken Broth with Tortillas, Avocado and Lime, featuring canned tomatoes and canned chicken stock; entrée of Grilled Prawn Salad with Black-Eyed Peas and Citrus-Chile Vinaigrette, featuring canned black-eyed peas and canned chipotle peppers; and dessert of Peach and Blueberry Crostata with Vanilla Ice Cream, featuring canned peaches and canned blueberries

Florence regularly uses convenience foods in his recipes and thinks they can help create authentic and incredibly doable meals that can help Americans eat and live well. 

How America Shops:  Retail and Consumer Trends

To round out the Symposium, the Canned Food Alliance opened the floor to David Lockwood from Mintel, a research firm specializing in consumer food trends.  The day’s closing topic, “How America Shops:  Retail and Consumer Trends” is based on Mintel Reports’ research of the consumer packaged goods market around the world at the beginning of 2005.  Research identified the top 10 trends for the next five years, which will also shape the canned food marketplace and new product introductions.

These trends reveal themselves in packaging and labeling, as well as consumer shopping preferences and attitudes.  In addition, the 10 specific trends also generally follow the over-arching trend in the U.S. towards healthier eating – from the truly healthy to the better-for-you-but-still-indulgent to what is going on with kids, including:

  • The "G" word replaces the "C" word - Glyclemic versus carbs
  • What do you mean, "good bacteria?" - A discussion of probiotics
  • You've gotta have heart - Resurgence of heart-healthy foods
  • Doing a balancing act - Diet trends move toward balance
  • BB King, Mary Tyler Moore, Ron Santo - Diabetic-friendly foods
  • You can't eat it if you can't open it - Easy-open innovations
  • Going beyond "dashboard dining" - New trends in portability
  • Just kidding - Fun packaging for children's foods
  • It's food - of course it smells good! - Language and scents of aromatherapy moving into food and beverage
  • Dining for dollars (and profit) - Restaurants menus influence product innovation

"We're pleased to have played host to some of the industry's best and brightest," said CFA Director Tavoletti. This forum featured important industry discussion about today's evolving trends that will undoubtedly influence the canned food marketplace of tomorrow.

About the Canned Food Alliance (CFA)

The Canned Food Alliance (CFA) is a partnership of the American Iron and Steel Institute's Steel Packaging Council, the Can Manufacturers Institute, select food processors and affiliate members. The primary mission of the CFA is to serve as a resource for information on the nutrition, convenience, contemporary appeal and versatility of canned food.

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