Becel has removed artificial flavours, colours and preservatives from its products, making it the latest CPG brand to turn to more natural ingredients.
“Canadians are saying that they want to see more transparency in the ingredients, they want ingredients that are more recognizable, and simpler recipes,” said Valerie Rousseau, senior assistant brand building manager, Unilever Canada, which owns Becel.
Several CPG giants have recently made commitments to remove artificial ingredients from their products. General Mills said by 2017, all its cereals will be free of artificial flavours and colours. Last year, Nestlé pledged to remove artificial ingredients from all its 250 chocolate products sold worldwide. Kellogg pledged to take out artificial ingredients from cereals and snack bars by the end of 2018.
For Becel, Europe led the ingredients change last year. “All the markets are moving through this recipe change, but at a different rate,” said Rousseau. “The recipe for Becel is quite different amongst all the different markets.”
In Canada, the changes affect Becel Original, Buttery Taste, Olive Oil, and Vegan.
Artificial flavours and colours were replaced with naturally sourced equivalents. “Our colour comes from beta-carotene, flavours are naturally derived from buttermilk powder and other proprietary flavours, but all naturally sourced,” said Rousseau.
Meanwhile, artificial preservatives were replaced with salt, which shaves off about a month of shelf life from the product, said Rousseau. “[It’s] going from a seven-month shelf life to six, but we removed artificial preservatives entirely,” she said.
To promote the ingredient changes, Becel is launching the “Blend Bar” at Loblaws’ Maple Leaf Gardens store in Toronto. From March 2 to March 20, the brand is showing shoppers how margarine is made by blending plant and seed oils.
The Blend Bar, activated by Ariad Communications, is a global initiative that kicked off in the Netherlands last year.
“There’s a lot of confusion as to what exactly is margarine, where do the ingredients come from, and again, it goes back to consumers wanting transparency in ingredients,” said Rousseau. “The Blend Bar allows us to demonstrate the ‘seed to fork’ story of our ingredients and how margarine is made.”
Becel has enlisted Canadian healthy lifestyle expert Rose Reisman as the Blend Bar’s “master blender,” and celebrity chef Graham Elliot has created two recipes using the new Becel.
A TV spot, created by Mullen Lowe in London, U.K., announces the changes to Becel’s ingredients. Rousseau said the ad would begin airing in Canada in a couple of weeks.
Becel is also creating vignettes featuring Reisman and ET Canada’s Cheryl Hickey at the Blend Bar. The vignettes will air on several Shaw specialty stations and digital properties. The reformulated Becel is also being promoted with in-store marketing such as sampling and signage.
Edelman is handling public relations and Mindshare is handling media planning and buying.