One problem that ‘Big Food’ faces is the suspicion consumers feel due to the sheer size of the companies, Berenstein said, while some smaller brands make products that are not scalable.
It can also be difficult to change the public perception that a big company is not simply part of the problem but – through the virtues of its scalability – part of the solution, she added.
One solution is for food companies to come to life through their brands at a local level, Kahn said. “I get asked all the time ‘Quaker and Sabra Hummus are part of PepsiCo?’ […] People buy the brand before they buy the corporation.”
Acquiring smaller brands is one lever that allows major food manufacturers to acquire consumer trust but the company needs to be very careful to stick to the brand values.
“There are several examples where that has been lost and the brand has lost its equity because of that. Very careful navigation is needed,” he added.