On Tuesday, the 22nd of January, 2019, Health Canada released a revised food guide for the country and this had different reactions follow the new development. According to the Government of Canada’s website, Health Canada is responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health. It ensures that high-quality health services are accessible, and works to reduce health risks.
This new development is expected to have different effects on businesses depending on what services and products they offer. For example, the dairy and meat industry seems threatened as they fear the decline in sales because the new food guide lumps lean meat and dairy with more plant proteins as sources of good protein as against the special place meat and dairy had in the last food guide.
A summary of the new food guide
- Eat a variety of healthy foods each day
- Avoid processed foods and beverages that are high in saturated fats, sodium, and sugar.
- Cook more often and eat meals with others
- Be mindful of your eating habits – but enjoy your food.
The food guide simply emphasized the eating of more plant-based meals, drinking water and cooking at home. It did away with the four food groups and advice on the number of servings to eat each day.
This guide has been welcomed with different reactions. Advocates of vegetarian and vegan styles of eating are happy while the meat and dairy advocates feel its a political stunt. Either way, businesses would be affected positively and negatively. As with guides with national recognition, it is highly possible that businesses that have their activities centered around plant-based foods experience a surge in patronage while the dairy and meat businesses experience a drop in patronage. This brings me to the lessons I learned from the whole food guide issue.
3 Lessons for Enterprise owners
- A culture built around foresight: If you do not have foresight as one of the pillars of decision-making in your business, please create one. I know we all have what we want our businesses to look like and most importantly earn in future but this is beyond just focusing financial projections. If I was a Canadian businesswoman in the food and dairy industry, with all the debates around how the meat and dairy industry contributes largely to greenhouse gases, I would have probably changed businesses or readdress my model to create value through plants too. This new food guide would not come as a shock to me because Canada has a government that listens to its citizens and does what seems best for them. We would all agree that that food guide is not one that has the influence of any industry. Health professionals have attributed chronic illnesses like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure to the consumption of highly processed food including meat, dairy, sugar, and saturated fats.
- Be innovative: The quest for sustainability – business continuity drives innovation. With the way the world is going, one cannot afford to stick to a business model for too long. We have to constantly revise our models to suit current trends as these trends tend to affect consumer choices. We do not need to be reminded that we also have to be customer-centric as they dictate whether you remain in business or not – you would not produce anything that no one needs. You sell food? How about having a brand that looks to satisfy the healthy eater, not-so-healthy and those who want to just eat?
- Be on the good side always: I will find a way to explain this. We all know what is good from what is bad but we have choices. A Nigerian adage says that “If a lie travels for 20 years, the truth would catch up with it one day”. In my opinion, more countries are going to address their food guides because the cost of managing a chronic illness that has been associated with lifestyle choice – cancer inclusive keeps going high. If we could prevent this illness by adopting healthy eating habits and lifestyles generally, they would become mainstream one day. So if you are business that uses a product that is dependent on a potentially harmful item, get ready to change businesses or source for better alternatives because one day, the right thing to do would stare at you in the face and you would have no choice than to embrace it.
I hope with these few points of mine, I have been able to let you see that it is not enough to just go towards where the money is now but to use eco-social thinking to innovate and create shared value for all.