Futurelife going GMO free

In what’s likely to cause a stir in the cereal sector, Durban’s fast-track FUTURELIFE has announced it will be the first company in the functional food market in South Africa to make the move to GMO-free products.

As of 1 July 2013, products manufactured in the FUTURELIFE factory have been produced from GMO-free raw materials. Despite the added cost and immense supply chain complexities in procuring these, FUTURELIFE says it has taken the decision not to increase its prices.

As part the retail distribution process, it will be approximately three months before consumers will see the GMO-free products on shelf, which will be clearly labelled.

Two of the main raw materials in FUTURELIFE products are maize and soya, with GM varieties widely farmed and processed in South Africa. FUTURELIFE reiterates that there is no difference between the GM and GM-free raw materials in terms of taste and nutritional content.

Paul SaadThe move is being made, says CEO, Paul Saad (left), not because there is anything wrong with GM foods, but because of queries and calls to do so from customers and, as a leading health brand, they are beholden to the highest possible standards.

The issue of GMO has sparked debate globally and in South Africa, he says. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Food Safety Authority have approved the use of the genetically modified seeds that are grown in South Africa. Furthermore, according to WHO reports on food safety, GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. There are however consumers that believe the contrary.

“The debate regarding the merits of GM versus non-GM is a complex one and we do not profess to be experts in this area. However, we do stand by our customers and what they want out of our products,” says Saad. “As we are a respected and credible health and lifestyle company, consumers hold us to a higher standard and we felt it important to satisfy our customers’ needs. We are therefore fulfilling our pledge to go GMO free, thereby offering our customers choice.”

“The market for enhanced or functional foods and beverages continues to grow in step with changing consumer health and wellness lifestyles. As an overall global trend in functional food and beverage consumption, consumers are navigating wellness with greater breadth and depth of knowledge and there is a keen focus on ‘clean, real foods’”.

According to Saad achieving GMO-free status in South Africa is an enormously complex task as the country is not set up for this. “In order to guarantee we are GMO-free we need to ensure that a number of procedures are in place and tests are conducted regularly,” says Saad (further details of the process is available on www.futurelife.co.za/gmo). 

Demonstrating phenomenal growth in the last four years as a health/cereal brand, FUTURELIFE is one of the fastest growing brands in the cereal category. Against a cereal category year-on-year growth of around 7%, FUTURELIFE has seen a massive growth of 142%. According to Nielsen, it now has 6% share of the R3,4bn RTE cereal market in SA on a national basis, and 9% in KZN.

FUTURELIFE GM, Shaun Harris, was emphatic in an interview with FOODStuff SA, that they see themselves as a functional food company, not as a cereal brand. He attributes their enormous growth to the fact that the products deliver on every promise – that users truly ‘feel the benefits’, an all-important credo in the functional food arena.

“FUTURELIFE is more than a cereal and more than a supplement. We cross both boundaries – effectively we’ve created a new food category in South Africa,” he comments.

The company has upped its marketing efforts and spend dramatically, especially in the sports world, a strategy, Harris says, that has boosted its profile and moved the brand into the family market.

That said, he’s quick to stress that it’s not a product exclusive to an affluent consumer base – that at R3.50/serving, with all its taste and nutritional benefits, it has huge support across the LSMs.

The FUTURELIFE range currently consists of FUTURELIFE SmartFood, FUTURELIFE High Protein SmartFood, FUTURELIFE SmartFood for Kids and FUTURELIFE Crunch, which are available in most leading retailers including Pick n Pay and Woolworths as well as Dischem and Clicks outlets.

FUTURELIFE is South Africa’s first scientifically formulated nutritionally dense food range to contain Moducare. The products are highly versatile and convenient – mixes instantly with cold milk or water and is flavoursome without the need for added sugar. It is also the only cereal brand to be packaged using state-of-the-art modified air pressure technology to preserve taste and freshness without the use of preservatives.

FUTURELIFE; www.futurelife.co.za