I missed out on getting an actual print versions of the Coles and Woolworths magazines for January, so today I checked out the online versions and was so struck by the amount of vegan and vegetarian stuff in it that I just had to do a quick share. I mean look at the front covers. Both of them feature something vegan/vegetarian - a vegetarian burger for Woolworths and vegan slices for Coles.
Yes I have shares in Coles - and Wesfarmers too - but let me say at the outset that this in no way intended as a love fest for either of them. Coles and Woolworths are our two largest supermarkets. Yes there is Aldi too and they probably are similar but it's actually much more difficult to find out from their website what they actually sell on a daily basis. And they don't have a monthly magazine, just a twice weekly catalogue. So they are sort of included in this but without examples. And because they are supermarkets and almost everyone shops there, what is on their shelves and in their magazines is generally speaking a good indication of what people are eating. Well the shelves and the magazines are slightly different. Not everything that is on the shelves is in the magazine. What is in the magazine is a marketing exercise to get you to buy their latest products and what they want to push for a variety of other reasons. But at the same time, the magazines in particular are a really good indicator of what is in fashion in food. And the current big push is HEALTH. It would be interesting to know whether this is actually what people are buying from the shelves - or are the big movers coco cola, chocolate and chips? Alas I don't have the energy to dig a bit more to find that out. One just has to assume that because the supermarkets are pushing the health things, that this is the trend. Supermarkets don't really make trends - they watch them very carefully and try and profit from them.
So let's start with the covers - both of them are promoting vegetarian/vegan. At first sight you might think the Woolworths green burger was vegan too, but on closer inspection it includes yoghurt and parmesan, so no, not vegan. It is pretty healthy though - chick peas, peas, cucumber, oats ... The Coles slices, on the other hand are indeed vegan, though not necessarily healthy. Well it depends on how healthy their Coles Irresistible Vegan Vanilla Bean Frozen Dessert is. I looked it up and see it has various sugars, and lots of coconut cream. Now I tried to find out if coconut cream is healthy or not - and by the way the slices have coconut oil in them too, and as far as I can tell although there are some health benefits - too much is not good - high fat. Anyway - vegan yes. Healthy questionable.
Elsewhere in the Coles magazine - whilst we are still on vegan and nice cream (bananas), later in the magazine there are vegan ice creams - three of them. One of them is just strawberries and banana but the other two have the inevitable coconut cream or milk - one of them sweetened. There are no other ice cream recipes in the magazine. So it's vegan or nothing. Not many cakes either. Indeed most of the sweet options are fruit based really - indeed Woolworths has a whole section on fruit platters, which is more about how to arrange pretty pieces of fruit, than cooking anything. Nevertheless they are indeed promoting fruit - indeed both of them have large sections on stoned fruit - prepared every which way..
They both also do burgers of course - it's summer, and there is always a vegetarian or vegan option.
Ditto for the large number of salads, and the smoothies too.
The Woolworths magazine index has a slightly mind-blowing number of different indicators against each recipe for all those 'healthy' things we look for these days. I guess there are only 8 vegan ones, but there are 20 vegetarian and a whole index section called meat-free. Coles is behind Woolworths here. The index doesn't have such indicators or categories. They have the recipes though.
I could go on with the host of other 'healthy' tips, recipes, information, promotions that are littered throughout these magazines suffice to say that there are lots. And they both now have an app or a specific online site which expands on the magazine content, as well - not purely 'healthy' but certainly trying to look that way.
Just two more things that I found.
A double page promotion from Coles - i.e. the manufacturers of these products doubtless paid for a mention - but they are all 'health foods', and Coles would have made that decision. As an aside in both magazines it is sometimes difficult to sort out the real advertisements from the in-house recipes. A few are obvious - just straight ads, some are semi- obvious - an ad for a product but with a recipe, some are sneaked in as a product in a Coles or Woolworths recipe and some are recipes that promote their home brands. It's how the magazine manages to be free. You have to have your wits about you. Or do you? Does it really matter? If you fancy a recipe and you find it has a brand ingredient, you don't have to use that particular brand.
The last thing was that both of them took the opportunity of a new year to give you lots of 'helpful' hints on how to better feed your family in a 'responsible' way and also make life easier for yourself. Coles has '31 days, 31 ways to eat well' and Woolworths has something similar called 'Hit refresh'. Plus both of them are littered with information about how to improve your diet.
So what's the ulterior motive behind it all? Well to sell stuff of course. Supermarkets are not trend setters, but they do keep an eye on the trends and try to respond. And if, in responding they are stacking their shelves with new stuff, then they need to promote it in every way they can. The magazines are just one of these ways. It would be interesting to see if, in fact, people are actually following the trend or continuing to just buy coco cola, chocolate and crisps but I'm a afraid I don't have to energy to dig deeper into that. I'm sure the figures are there somewhere.
POSTSCRIPT TO A POSTSCRIPT
Well sort of. Whilst flicking through the magazine I noticed this ad in one of them. Talk about coincidence. It's one of those semi-ads that looks like it might actually be part of the magazine itself, but isn't really.
Coincidence don't you think, considering Monday's blog on waffles.
Not healthy though. Definitely not. The berries are the only healthy thing on offer here.