Consumers these days are more concerned about their personal health and well-being. They are increasingly seeking out products that are natural, clean & wholesome. They want to support brands that demonstrate similar values and incorporate trust & transparency into their operations and communications. Clean label is one such trend that is spurring innovation across the food & beverage industry.
Clean label refers to food products containing natural, familiar, simple ingredients that are easy to recognize, understand, and pronounce, with no artificial ingredients or synthetic chemicals. And while its precise definition remains subjective, the defining challenge for food industry is clear: How to remove/replace the ingredients from food without compromising product taste, texture, safety and shelf life?
Below pyramid explains consumers expectations from a clean label food & several ways to create it…
We’ve now reached the point where clean label is not just today’s reality; it is a path that packaged food and beverage companies must take. Manufacturers and Brands that can respond will certainly be rewarded as consumers are not only willing to pay more, but would also switch from their current brand to the one that offers more transparency.
There is also a significant opportunity for both food business operators and their ingredient suppliers to gain the trust of consumers with co-branding which can be ultimately converted into higher spend, loyalty and repeat purchases.
For instance, some companies like Kraft Heinz, nestle have successfully embraced the clean label concept. But many of them are still struggling with finding natural replacements for tried-and-true synthetic ingredients that do not compromise efficacy, increase price, or affect sensory attributes of the food.
Ultimately, it is worth remembering that all of the ingredients being used in processed food have been extensively studied and deemed safe for consumption by the regulatory bodies with no evidence of adverse health effects.
Clean labels will grow exponentially and there will be a continued demand for manufacturers to deliver the products that fit consumers’ lifestyle needs. But we need to understand that “clean label” does not equal to “healthy”, it is more about consumers perception!!! We cannot stop processing or fortifying foods just because ingredients have some unrecognizable or chemical sounding names. Instead, we have to work on consumers’ lack of familiarity with science through clear and transparent communication about the ingredients perceived as harmful.