This issue of Perspectives is all about food. If you don’t work for or represent a food company, you may think it’s not relevant for you. Not so.

At the heart of this issue is what we see as a shift in how consumers are behaving and how they expect companies of all kinds to respond. Consider this: Three years ago, the International Labour Office (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, announced that poor diet on the job is costing countries around the world up to 20 percent in lost productivity. This is due not only to problems associated with excess weight and obesity, but also to the malnutrition that plagues more than a billion people in developing countries. The study noted that businesses in the U.S. are spending some $12.7 billion annually on insurance costs, paid sick leave and other payments related to obesity among employees. In less developed nations, malnutrition takes a similar toll.

This is relevant to any company, and particularly to those with a global workforce. For communicators, it has implications for the topics that should be addressed through employee communication as well as through CSR communication, as both employees and consumers expect companies to do more to address diet-related issues.

The focal point of this Extra issue is a Ketchum study that touched on topics similar to those in the ILO research. We conducted the Food 2020 survey this summer in five countries: the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Argentina and China. We set out to discover what consumers from various locations around the world want from the food they eat and where they think food companies should place priorities. The insights that emerged paint a picture of consumers wanting more—more information, more choices, more accountability, more control. And they want companies to do more to help people in need around the world.

In October, we announced the results of the study at a San Francisco event attended by many clients and influencers from the food industry, as well as Ketchum colleagues. This issue includes coverage of that event. Linda Eatherton, a Ketchum partner and head of our agency’s Global Food & Nutrition Practice, leads off the issue with a look at how consumers can drive the changes they want to see by voting with their food purchases—creating a new global currency of sorts. Also in the “Voices of Influence” section, noted food industry consultant Phil Lempert, who frequently works with Ketchum and is known as the Supermarket Guru, talks about what shoppers want. In “Viewpoints,” experts from our Global Food & Nutrition Practice in each of the five countries surveyed share their views on the survey’s findings.

We also gathered four registered dietitians, with deep experience in nutrition communication in the U.S., for a roundtable discussion to share their thoughts on issues ranging from the long-term impact from recent food scares to how employers should address nutrition in the workplace. Cathy Kapica, vice president of global health and wellness for Ketchum, moderated the discussion through instant messaging.

Finally, we couldn’t do an issue on food without highlighting our own kitchen. So we also take a look at the Ketchum Food Center, which was launched 30 years ago, through a short interview with Ketchum’s chef, Catherine Pantsios. We wrap up the issue with highlights from a forecast on global trends in health, wellness and nutrition that we predicted would begin taking shape this year.

As always, I hope you find this issue of Perspectives useful and that you will share your thoughts with me at If you are interested in learning more about the Food 2020 survey, I encourage you to contact Linda Eatherton at to arrange for a briefing.

Best regards,

Ray Kotcher
Senior Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Ketchum