Clean label comes ahead of brand

17 Oct 2018

Consumers are now more interested in clean label ingredients instead of product descriptions or the brand name itself, when shopping for new foods and drinks, according to a new global survey – highlighting the ongoing importance of clean label products.

Clean label comes ahead of brand

Natural and clean label ingredients have become an absolute expectation for consumers, but what they consider to be natural varies widely. Ingredient supplier Beneo commissioned this latest poll among 3,000 online consumers in the United States, Germany and the UK. It found 59% of respondents expected a ‘natural’ product to be healthy, 53% said they thought it should not be genetically modified, and 50% equated ‘natural’ with high quality.

Food manufacturers have often struggled with consumer expectations of naturalness, especially since it lacks a precise definition (except in relation to flavourings in the EU). And some of the attributes that make a product ‘clean label’ for consumers are not necessarily those that a manufacturer considers when switching out artificial ingredients. Low sugar, for example, was associated with natural products for 39% of global consumers, while food safety (40%) and ‘pure taste’ (44%) were also top expectations.

Previously, the term ‘clean label’ tended to refer to simplified ingredient lists and removal of artificial ingredients, but its definition has expanded in recent years, and is now widely understood to include concepts like ‘free from’, not just in terms of allergens, but also from animal cruelty, genetically modified ingredients and unsustainable supply chains. Reflecting this shift, Innova Market Insights refers to ‘clear label’, meaning transparency about how ingredients are sourced, as well as about what is in the product.

While BENEO’s latest survey underlined the importance of clean label ingredients, product description and brand were still important for a large proportion of consumers – 49% and 45% respectively. However, it also suggests brand value is reliant on how ingredient lists and product claims match up with consumer expectations, as shoppers look for clear, relevant claims. Among survey respondents, ‘no preservatives/made with natural ingredients’ was the claim most closely associated with naturalness.

The degree to which consumers expect natural ingredients is highly dependent on product category, too. Manufacturers of foods and drinks for children, for example, might have a long list of ingredients that consumers generally would prefer to avoid. On the other hand, consumers concerned with animal welfare may be more accepting of less ‘clean’ ingredients in plant-based meat and milk alternatives, because they place more importance on animal welfare.

The bottom line is that manufacturers of iconic food brands must be aware that the brand alone may no longer be sufficient to meet consumer demands. Yet they walk a fine line when it comes to reformulation with more natural ingredients, and must take care not to alienate loyal consumers.

Read more blogs

Related news

Brazilian regulators open the door to supplement and probiotic innovation

Brazilian regulators open the door to supplement and probiotic innovation

1 Feb 2021

Health claim approvals for dietary supplements and probiotics in Brazil are opening the door to market innovation, says one expert – but more work is needed to ensure full consumer transparency.

Read more 
Singapore start-up ‘makes bad carbs good’ with plant-based fibre blends

Singapore start-up ‘makes bad carbs good’ with plant-based fibre blends

25 Jan 2021

Alchemy Fibre makes plant-based fibre blends that lower the glycaemic index (GI) of refined carbohydrates without altering their taste, texture or colour.

Read more 
Is it time European policymakers define what ‘natural’ food is?

Is it time European policymakers define what ‘natural’ food is?

18 Jan 2021

Consumers are being misled over products that claim to be natural but contain artificial ingredients. Is it time for a legal definition?

Read more 
Veggie-packed food brands fill the gap between ‘plant-based’ and ‘vegetable-rich’

Veggie-packed food brands fill the gap between ‘plant-based’ and ‘vegetable-rich’

11 Jan 2021

Generation Z – the generation of people born between 1997 and 2012 – may be fuelling the plant-based food trend but, paradoxically, they are not eating enough plants, creating a white space for products and ready meals that put vegetables centre-stage.

Read more 
Halal harmonisation opens doors for food exporters

Halal harmonisation opens doors for food exporters

14 Dec 2020

The food industry is benefitting from steps to harmonise halal standards globally, including recent guidance for halal food additives– but more progress is required, according to a report.

Read more 
Immune-boosting product launches in Southeast Asia

Immune-boosting product launches in Southeast Asia

7 Dec 2020

Chocolate snacks with adaptogenic mushroom powder, vitamin C jelly, and prebiotic-packed crackers are just some recent product launches in Southeast Asia promising to boost consumers’ immunity as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.

Read more 
Chinese consumers increasingly concerned about food safety

Chinese consumers increasingly concerned about food safety

30 Nov 2020

Food safety is of growing concern for Chinese consumers and many do not fully trust on-pack claims such as organic. Supply chain certification is one way to win back trust, according to Lloyd’s Register.

Read more 
Cocoa fruit juice: The next big beverage ingredient?

Cocoa fruit juice: The next big beverage ingredient?

9 Nov 2020

Cocoa fruit juice has a refreshingly sweet and sour flavour with tropical notes of lychee and peach, making it ideal for premium-positioned drinks, says Ghanaian-Swiss supplier Koa.

Read more 
Confidence in Europe’s CBD market high despite regulatory barriers

Confidence in Europe’s CBD market high despite regulatory barriers

2 Nov 2020

Despite regulatory uncertainty, small start-ups and big businesses alike are confident about Europe’s CBD market. “Local brands [have] a great opportunity to shine,” says one company.

Read more 
French dairy giant Bel to launch plant-based cheese

French dairy giant Bel to launch plant-based cheese

22 Oct 2020

French dairy group Bel will launch a plant-based Boursin in the US next year as it develops vegan versions of its core brands, which include Babybel and The Laughing Cow.

Read more