Kraft, like many big food companies, has a problem. Every 3 months the publicly traded company needs to show rising sales and profits to its Wall Street Investors. But since it sells food, how can it possibly sell any more to a country of already overstuffed consumers?
The answer: Innovation.
Mostly in marketing.
And so, in a recent company “innovation day” Kraft executive have brainstormed and concocted a new product called Mio Water Flavoring.
What is it? A concentrated liquid that comes in tiny eye-drop-sized bottles.
The target consumer: Men and women aged 18 to 39 who “prefer to customize their experiences, including what they drink.”
“This is the next big thing,” says Roxanne Bernstein from Kraft, director of the $3.99 MiO brand. “It’s an entirely new category.” Kraft is pumping a lot of energy into this product launch, their biggest in 15 years.
Is all the fanfare justified?
Nutritionally this product has no calories. Sounds good. Until you see what’s inside…
What you need to know:
Here is the ingredient list:
Water, Citric Acid, Propylene Glycol, Malic Acid, Contains Less than 2% of Natural Flavor, Sucralose and Acesulfame Potassium (Sweeteners), Potassium Citrate, Red 40, Blue 1, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative).
What are you getting here? Propylene Glycol is a clear and slightly bitter liquid that is used to prevent discoloration of foods during storage. It has been shown to cause various diseases in animal studies when consumed in large quantities.
Acesulfame Potassium is a fake sweetener that is potentially carcinogenic.
“Natural Flavor” with fake colors to cause you to imagine the berries depicted on the package. Unfortunately those artificial colors may cause cancer and hyperactivity too.
Last but not least, potassium sorbate is a mold inhibitor – it allows this product to sit on a shelf for months.
So, Mio is a gobbledegook of chemicals designed to entice consumers, but mostly to increase Kraft profits.
Really Kraft, is this the best you could do?
What to do at the supermarket:
Learn to enjoy unflavored water as your hydration solution of choice. Even though Mio is a zero calorie drink, it conditions your taste buds to expect uber-sweet flavors. It skews your tongue’s perception of what types of food it should want.
If you have a sweet tooth, learn to enjoy small portions of real sweets, made with real food ingredients that you can actually bite into. But leave the water be.