Clean label now the norm

unnamed-1Clean label has moved on beyond being a trend and is now regarded as standard in the food industry, new data released by Innova Market Insights has found.

According to the research, consumers are demanding shorter and more recognisable ingredients lists and manufacturers are responding by increasingly highlighting the naturalness and origins of their products.

With growing concerns over the lack of a definition of “natural,” however, there is a need for more clarity and specificity, with consumers, retailers, industry, and regulators all driving the demand for more transparency in food labelling. More than 20 per cent of US products tracked in 2014 featured a clean label positioning, up from 17 per cent in 2013,

Significant rises in the use of clean label ingredients have also been tracked by Innova Market Insights, with growing interest in natural sweeteners, such as stevia and monk fruit, natural colours such as those based on spirulina, elderberry, and beetroot, and thickeners such as tragacanth and gellan gums. Fewer ingredients, more natural flavours and colours and recognisable ingredients top the list of consumer requirements.

Innova findings suggest that 73 per cent of US consumers think that it is important to have recognisable ingredients in the foods they eat, as well as foods that they would stock at home. Some 28 per cent of consumers also admit to finding a clean label important when purchasing foods. This could include statements such as ‘organic’, ‘non-GMO’, or ‘hormone-free’, as well as more established claims of no artificial ingredients.

Lu Ann Williams, director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights, said this demand for clean labelling has now brought the need for clear labelling equally to the fore, resulting in a move to clearer and simpler claims and packaging for maximum transparency and necessitating an industry response in terms of reformulation and new communication strategies.

Issues such as overall well being, digestive health, weight management, and nutritional value may now be deemed to be equally if not more important by consumers. Products positioned on a gluten-free platform accounted for 9 per cent of total launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in 2014, rising to 17 per cent in the US, while the annual average growth for lactose-free launches was 29 per cent during the 2010 to 2014 period.

“Considerable effort has gone into developing the gluten-free and lactose-free categories in recent years,” Williams said.

“But at the same time the whole free from category is widening out to include broader definitions such as vegan, dairy free, grain free, additive and preservative free and GM -free. Indications of ongoing development include the arrival of existing mainstream brands in the market, as well as rising sales of specialist brands in mainstream outlets and the increased space and improved signage dedicated to them.”

Innova Market Insights will be addressing these trends at its Taste the Trend Pavilion at this year’s IFT Food Expo in Chicago from July 12 to 14.

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