Kraft boss says simpler and healthier lines is what the company will focus on going forward

Kraft boss says simpler and healthier lines is what the company will focus on going forward

Products with "simpler" ingredients will form a core part of Kraft Foods Group's portfolio, the US company's chief executive has said.

The firm recently relaunched its Kraft Singles cheese slices to contain with no artificial preservatives.

Tony Vernon told the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference consumer behaviour in North America was "undergoing dramatic change" - with the values of shoppers evolving.

He claimed consumers were increasingly wanting healthier and "real food". Vernon said: "Consumers at all income levels are looking at 'better for you' products. Freshly made and simple ingredients are becoming primary purchase drivers. We must develop this in our brand renovation plans."

Vernon said Kraft would develop products that met those trends - he said Kraft would look to "apply the science of nutrition" to reduce calories, "limit unwanted sugar, sodium or fats" or add "beneficial ingredients, food groups and nutrients".

His "big bets" for 2014 were on those products, particularly snacks that were fresher and higher in protein.

The company is launching the Oscar Mayer P3 Protein Power Pack, which contains 13g of protein across three compartments comprising nuts, Kraft cheese and Oscar Mayer meat.

The company is also introducing gluten-free options under its Deli Fresh brand, while the recipe for Philadelphia Cream Cheese is being change,to include no artificial flavours and real fruits and vegetables. Kraft recently launched Philadelphia 2x Protein, a spread with added protein.

Vernon said he saw "huge opportunities in the cheese, dairy and meat" sectors. "No artificial preservatives, colours and flavours is a trend you'll see Kraft riding on into the future," he said.

However, although Vernon said consumers were showing more interest in healthier options, the Kraft chief acknowledged focus groups may not always prefer more nutritious variations of lines already in the market.

He took the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line of products in Kraft's Mac and Cheese range as an example.

"If the Mac and Cheese brand tested Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles versus a wholegrain - no dyes, no preservatives option, the first would outest it 5:1 everytime," Vernon explained.

He said the "critical mass" on health and wellness had still not reached a point where the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles variant would be beaten.

However, the Kraft chief said the company had an eye on the future. "We recognise that the future suggests we should override the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We should make a decision on our portfolio presentation that overrides the test results [in favour] of a healthier Mac and Cheese line."