The Importance of Variability in the Food Industry

Diversity is a widely discussed concept these days – and, in some way, it started from food. While, traditionally, the food industry was looking for universals (products which would suit everyones taste), later, it started to lean more toward the idea of variability (Gladwell, 2004). This concept is based on the understanding that people have different tastes and needs; therefore, there can be no product everyone would be equally happy with (Gladwell, 2004). This idea has transformed the food industry.

There are numerous products people have distinct expectations about. One of the notable examples is soy sauce. Nowadays, companies like Kikkoman do not try to recreate the original Japanese receipt. Instead, they provide options varying in the amount of salt, in the brewing process, in whether they contain or exclude sugar, and in many other ways. The tastes in dark chocolate are also different – some people find 75% of cacao a sweet spot, while others enjoy more bitter options up to 99 and 100% of cacao. This trend, for instance, is recognized by Lindt.

Many environmentally-conscious people these days opt for plant-based milk alternatives – but their tastes also vary. Not only do they choose different types such as oat or coconut, but they also have preferences in flavor. That is why Alpro, for instance, provides both sweetened and sugar-free soy milk. Among health-conscious people, there are also devotees of protein bars. They are available in different tastes, but most of them, however, is very sweet. Therefore, some people might have liked it if they could buy plain protein bars the way they purchase plain protein powder.

The idea of food variability has changed the patterns of grocery shopping. Previously people just tried to buy the best option of the product in terms of quality – now they can choose the item which better suits their taste buds. Having multiple flavor options provides a vast choice unimaginable before but certainly increases the time people spend buying groceries.

Diversity, these days, is important not only for the food industry. Companies are no longer looking for an ideal employee – they aim to create teams that include people of various backgrounds who can bring new ideas or see the problem from another perspective. This allows the creation of different products for different people – from makeup items to automobiles – increasing satisfaction and happiness people experience while using them.


Gladwell, M. (2004). [Video]. TED. Web.

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