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What is Wellness Washing?

2nd Feb, 2023


Have you ever been lured in by a food product's health claims or wellness-washed packaging, only to find out that it's not as healthy as it seems? You're not alone. The trend of wellness washing has taken over the food industry and it's becoming harder to decipher what's truly healthy and what's just marketing tactics.

So let’s uncover the truth about the food industry and discover how to make informed, sustainable eating choices.

The Dark Side of Food Wellness

Junk food is appealing and addictive due to its perfect balance of salt, fat, and sugar, and marketing for these products is designed to keep us coming back for more. Now don’t get us wrong, we love a good burger (full fat or vegan) every now and again, but what if we used the power of food marketing to promote healthy eating instead?

To truly convince people to choose healthy foods, marketing must highlight their nutritional benefits and show how delicious and enjoyable they can be. This can be done by showcasing visually appealing and appetising preparations of fruits and vegetables, by showing people enjoying them, or by plainly stating the good ingredients inside.

When we see real people in advertisements we can more easily imagine what it would be like to eat the food in the image. We’ve all seen the omnipresent posts, reels, and tiktoks of an influencer, head to toe in activewear, tucking into her homemade vegan green bowl. This popular scene is ubiquitous for a reason - because we love to see other people experiencing a product before we buy. In health foods terms, studies have shown that such advertising can directly improve the perceived and actual pleasure of eating these foods, making it a more attractive choice.

This type of marketing can become open to exploitation when it comes to wellness-washing, meaning brands will pay celebrities and influencers big on the wellness trend for ‘product placement’ so as to appear endorsed by them, when actually the product itself may be hiding some sinister ingredients that don’t contribute to wellbeing at all. As social media presence continues to grow, it’s important for brands to suss out influencers who are genuine fans and champion their product for legitimate reasons, so as to promote a culture of trust and transparency, where wellness means well-being and customers know the product they’re buying. 

Calling B.S on the “No B.S” claims

These days we are much more adept at seeing through fussy ads and hidden agendas, but many of us fall victim to wellness-washed packaging, boasting health claims, no-nonsense ingredients and “superfoods” that on investigation simply aren’t true. 

Misleading packaging like the case with RXBar, saw their profits soar as they swapped their original wrapper design for a ‘clean label’ version. In a bid to market their bars as “No B.S”, they moved some (not all) of the ingredients from the nutritional facts label to the front of the packaging. But since have had complaints filed, accusing the company of misleading consumers with false claims that their bars contain "real fruit" and "full egg whites". Whereas the complaint alleges that the company uses only portions of egg whites and fruit concentrate with sweetening agents. Combine this with easy-to-miss disclaimers and you have a product with “wellness-washing” written all over it.

How Do We Advertise at TYME 

It’s quite simple. We pride ourselves on our transparency in the production of our food and as a company. From farm to table, we track the journey of every ingredient to give you peace of mind knowing that your meal was produced sustainably, and no different to the way you would prepare it at home. 

We believe in being open and honest with our customers, so you can make informed decisions about the food you eat and its impact on the environment.  That is why most of our marketing is centred around our food, ingredients and sustainability. We photograph our dishes up close and hero the whole, organic ingredients with functional benefits. We’re lucky in that the quality ingredients we use speak for themselves. We have recently tapped into the trend of influencer marketing and have given our food to top-fan content creators and influencers alike. Not to promote the message of clean eating, and jump on the plant-based eating trend - but instead to make our food more relatable, in line with who we think you are, and how we think you would like to enjoy our food.

If you'd like to find out more about how marketing affects our food choices, check out Mark Hyman's, M.D. great podcast on How Your Health Is Impacted By Food Marketing And Our Dietary Guidelines.

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