New Survey: Shoppers Reported that Traditional Package Labels = NOT Enough Details

In a national study conducted, it showed that 70% of shoppers need to know more about the products they are buying off grocery shelves. They are no longer satisfied with the traditional package labels that come with the item they purchased. In fact, they want to know more beyond these labels.

As such, it has accentuated the usefulness of a new digital tool that makes it easy for shoppers to get access to detailed info on household, personal care, beverage, food and a host of other products sold at supermarkets. This tool is known as the SmartLabel®, and more than 28,000 products are already using the device.

smart label traditional label not enough details packagingWith SmartLabel, shoppers have access to a host of information about the product they’re buying with a touch of their fingertips. It contains far more information than the usual on-package label can ever hold. Information can include product ingredients, where it was sourced, what it does, and even why it was used in the product. Other relevant information can also be accessed via SmartLabel like the product’s environmental impact, animal treatment during the development process, how the product was produced, directions for use, and even a detailed description on allergens.

How to Use SmartLabel®

It is reasonably easy to use so long as you have a Smartphone. Access to this information is instantaneous. All you need to do is use the SmartLabel app to scan the QR code of the product, and like magic, all the information appears.

The Launch of Consumer Education Campaign on Evaluating Package Labels

Since product info for consumers is very accessible via the SmartLabel, in the next several months’ retailers and manufacturers are commencing a campaign to educate consumers. They are hoping to increase people’s awareness about this source of true information on the products they are buying and how to use it.

In early 2017, product participation in SmartLabel was at 4,000 items, and by 2018 it has grown seven-fold. Each week, more and more products are joining SmartLabel—increasing the support for the consumer education program.

In essence, it is believed that retailers are viewed by consumers as the trusted source for information on the products that they sell. This digital disclosure enables the retailer to connect the consumer more closely to the foods and products they buy. Therefore, the education campaign not only raises awareness that there is an app that buyers can turn to for detailed information on products they buy, but it is also a way for buyers to feel more connected to the items they support or use.

According to one user of SmartLabel, Natalia Johnson, the thing she loves most about this digital tool is the ease of use and the convenience. Since she rarely shops without her phone, whenever she wants to get to know a product more, she whips out her phone and scans the QR code.

Product package labels will need to adapt to be clean and full of information on what makes up the product. We look forward to seeing consumers get more information on the food they are eating and how some manufacturers are striving to make it better for you!

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Watching The Moving Target On Consumer Preferences

For several years already,  consumer preferences have placed importance on their health and wellness. In the recent American Bankers’ Association annual convention, Todd Hale noted that while people want healthy foods, they also want to indulge. Fortunately, there is a growing trend of healthy indulgent categories. For instance, favorite comfort foods such as pies and other specialty desserts have experienced growth according to Nielsen data.

Retailers Take Advantage of the Desire for Freshness

There is an increasing desire for consumers to eat sweet goods that are fresh. Most consumers prefer fresher products, and this fact is used as an advantage by retailers. Food manufacturers use specialized packaging on cakes, cookies, and donuts. Moreover, they also place these products around the store so that consumers can easily access them and not just go to the center store anymore to get them. Another strategy that retailers do is to use technology such as television screens to showcase their indulgent offerings.

Retailers know that consumers who are not afraid to indulge are likely to gravitate towards eating healthy. Jones-Barber from Dawn’s Bakers Truth noted that with the changing trend of people wanting to eat healthily, it is the role of food manufacturers and retail companies to deliver products that are healthy and also satisfies the indulgence of consumers.

Today’s Consumer Preferences Driven by Transparency and Truth

Aside from eating healthy, consumers also demand transparency and truth. This is the reason why many food manufacturers including Kroger are now jumping on the bandwagon for organic brands that come with clean labels. Consumers are now opting for food products wherein they know what they are made from or where they come from.

To date, there is a multitude of food manufacturers that create products with clean labels. Health-conscious individuals are also leaning towards products with a clean label because they are deemed healthier as they don’t contain preservatives, additives, and synthetic color and flavor.

Health and Wellness is a Moving Target

While it is easy to say that food manufacturers should focus on creating healthy products, it is often considered by food manufacturers as a moving target. The thing is that the term “health and wellness” can mean different things to different consumers.

Food manufacturers still need to define what their consumers think about “health and wellness.” Consumer feedback is essential for food manufacturing and retailers to address the needs of their consumers. This is the reason why there are so many products like trans-fat-free, sugar-free, and other ingredients that make a particular product more appealing to health-conscious consumers.

The ever-changing preferences of consumers make food manufacturers adapt to the ever-changing needs thus creating a wave of food trends along the way and demanding innovation from food manufacturers. And because it is a moving target, it can move quickly to new challenges and trends are created now and then.

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NutriFusion Fruit and Vegetable Powders Nutritional Claims FDA

Study Warns Brands to Rethink Clean Label Products

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Clean label products are are the fastest growing market in the food and beverage industry. While this movement is trending, it leaves a lot of gray areas—not only for the food manufacturers but also for the retailers and consumers. Unfortunately, there is no single definition of the word “clean label” even if it has been around for a few years. This has led to a lot of confusion among many people.

A joint study from the Food Marketing Institute and Solutions for Retail Brands called “The Clean Label Phenomenon for Food Retailers: Enhancing Transparency for consumers” is aimed at determining what consumers think about clean labels.

The Definition of Clean Label

So, what are clean label products? The conventional definition indicates that products are made from natural ingredients devoid of artificial additives, preservatives, and flavoring. Other definitions also include food that comes with ultimate authenticity as well as trustworthiness. The thing is that clean label is often interchanged with the word “natural” that is way too far from the truth.  Currently, there is no legal definition of a clean label, and the lack of a precise definition and consistency makes it confusing for everyone.

If you are a follower of the clean label movement, it is crucial to know which foods come with clean labels and which ones do not. While it is apparent among consumers that preservative and additives are not included in the clean label food list, 65% of shoppers are still confused such that they tend to avoid ingredients like sugar and salt actively. People consider GMO foods not to be clean label products.

Problems Involving the Clean Label Movement

Aside from the vague definition of “clean label,” another issue involving this movement is transparency. While consumers want more straightforward ingredient lists, what they want more is greater transparency. Further, different generations of consumers also demand different qualities from clean label products. The differing needs from each generation of consumers also mean that they have differing views on different brand labels. For instance, consumers that prefer free-from-modifications products may view other traditional unaltered products unacceptable.

While there are some problems involved in the clean label movement, food manufacturers and retailers can address these issues by being transparent when it comes to how they interpret the word “clean label.” For some companies, they may view clean labels as non-GMO ingredients while some might focus on how the ingredients are processed.

How to Solve the Problems with Clean Label Products

In fact, European companies are more receptive towards the clean label movement. The food industry in the United States can learn from European companies. To date, only 27% of packaged foods are marketed with a clean label to which private brands make up the most substantial amount of sales. While the sales of products that are packaged as a clean label are still meager in the United States, it will eventually grow as more and more people become more aware and conscious of the foods that they are eating. Hopefully, in the future, clean label products will be better defined so we can all get behind eating better for you foods.

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Infographic: What is Clean Eating?

Do you know what clean eating is? The clean eating trend has taken over the food and beverage industry over the past few years. Consumers believe it is a way to eat whole foods and packaged products with simpler ingredients. Two of the essential whole foods to clean eating are fruits and vegetables. Check out this infographic below created by the American Heart Association to learn more about the clean eating.

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CFI Finds Only 33% of Consumers Trust The Food System

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The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) released a new study, A Dangerous Food Disconnect: When Consumers Hold You Responsible  But Don’t Trust You, that looks at some damaging statistics on the food system. First and foremost, the study revealed that 33% of consumers do not trust the food system, which is down from 47% in 2017. This is alarming and further supports the movement by food companies to be more transparent and create products with simple ingredients.

Food Companies Placed Last on List of Most Trusted Information in the Food System

The new CFI study is important because it showcases the disconnect between what consumers think and what food companies across the industry are actively doing to ease their concerns. On the list of most trusted sources for food safety information, food companies ranked dead last with food regulators taking 8th on the list, and farmers ranking 3rd on the list. Surprisingly, family and physicians ranked as the most trusted sources of food safety information.


Roxi Beck, Director of the CFI, believes food companies have to further their mission of product transparency. She suggests inviting consumers to the farms and manufacturing facilities to build more trust. She also suggests large CPG companies be wary of touting their large size and global scale as it often viewed as a warning sign to consumers today. The small brands are taking advantage of this and winning big time.

Investing in Transparency Efforts and Technology

Multiple food companies and suppliers in the food system are looking at new blockchain technology to lead the transparency effort. Companies like Cargill have tested blockchain to allow consumers to trace their Thanksgiving Turkey back to the farm it was raised on. This is a step in the right direction.

Other companies are looking for ways to better tell their brand stories to lead transparency efforts. Marketing teams across food brands are selling this hard up the ladder because they know how important trust is to purchase decisions and long-term brand loyalty. The bottom line will grow as food companies and their brand focus on building more trust with consumers.

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Food Scientists Say Clean Labels Have Trade-Offs in Food Safety

To no surprise, two food safety and nutrition professors at Iowa State University believe there are significant trade-offs in cost and food safety for clean labels. The clean label is one of the most significant trends hitting the food and beverage industry. While there is no clear-cut definition, it is understood that clean label products do not contain additives or preservatives and typically have easy to read ingredients.

Why do Clean Labels Present Issues in Food Safety?

The two food scientists believe that not all food additives and preservatives are bad. Many of those hard-to-pronounce names are used to guard against pathogens and spoiling. While market demand is driving food companies to get rid of these additives, the scientists believe there should be a measured consideration for keeping some of these ingredients. The professors mentioned taking nitrates out of Hotdogs and deli meat as an example since their presence can help prevent clostridium botulinum bacteria.

Professors Ruth MacDonald, Ph.D. and Ruth Litchfield, Ph.D. believes that social media can take a lot of the blame for this hysteria around additives and preservatives. They insist consumers not to believe everything they read on social media and to take a deep dive into any research mentioned in posts.

clean label food safety consumers

How are Clean Labels Costing us More?

Label-readers have become fascinated with the “no high fructose corn syrup”  claim, but they are not looking closely at one is being replaced to sweeten the product. Many times companies are using tapioca syrup which is made from cassava, and typically more expensive. The professors say that the industry is developing all of these “cleaner” syrups like beet syrup, etc. and they are all sugar. They are no better than high-fructose corn syrup.

There seems to be a clear issue with what consumers expect and the reality of ingredients. Consumers want ingredients they understand, they want them cheap, they want them nutritious, they want them safe, and they want them to be beneficial. However, it is almost an impossible feat for food scientists. Consumers are more willing to accept technology in other aspects of their life but have now wholly shifted when it comes to food. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out as consumers become more educated about the science of food.

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Small Manufacturers Are Experiencing Large Growth

Although almost $3 billion in losses took place in U.S. retail during the first quarter because of a shift in the timing of Easter as well as changing consumer preferences, growth is not impossible. Contrary to what the numbers show, a few small food and beverage manufacturers are thriving during an unexpected time. Only five years ago, the largest food and bev manufacturers represented one-third of all dollar sales. However, to date, they account for only 31%, and smaller manufacturers (which exceed $100,000 in sales annually) have gained the two percentage points of market share, valuing at about $2 billion. Currently, nearly 16,000 companies, which make up the smallest manufacturers, are responsible for 19% of dollar sales and are also experiencing over half of the growth (53%).

For Full Article and Results From Nielsen, please visit:

Transparency is Now Key to Consumer Approval

Research put into the shift of growth in the U.S. retail industry shows that transparency is winning. Small manufacturers place a significant portion of their focus on health as well as the need to provide a transparent environment for consumers. At the same time, they do well to maintain an exceptional price point that retailers love!

Clean Labels Gaining Popularity

A “clean label” refers to a product that does not contain any artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colors, and flavors, as well as antibiotics and hormones in beverage and food categories. These products also typically make marketing label claims on their packaging to entice consumers.

As shown in a worldwide ingredients survey conducted by Nielsen, consumers have a tendency to keep a close eye on the details of products―actually, nearly three-quarters of survey participants said they felt positively toward businesses dedicated to honesty regarding their product sourcing; 68% were willing to spend more money on beverages and food free of ill-favored ingredients; 64% of the diets of consumers forbid specific ingredients. The longing for clean labels stems from the growing desire for company transparency.


Clean label products are now responsible for 30% of sales in the market, which has grown by 5.6% over the last five years. Small manufacturers dominate large competitors regarding clean label sales and growth. This past year has shown that small manufacturers sold the most share of clean label products in comparison to their other sales. Small manufacturers led with 40% of their sales coming from clean labels, followed by middle-sized manufacturers at 38%, private-label manufacturers at 27%, and lastly, large manufacturers at 24% of their sales coming from clean label products.

Small manufacturers take the lead in premium price tiers as well. Recently, premium-priced sales made up 44% of small producers’ sales, a significant difference when compared to the premium price of the sale of large manufacturers, recorded at 39% and below.

During the last five years, both medium- and small-sized manufacturers have upped their distribution throughout regions, resulting in a greater amount of space inside stores. Out of the roughly 900 beverage and food items that have been stock on store shelves since 2013, 88% came from medium- and small-sized companies. Retailers are giving small manufacturers an opportunity to sell their products to customers more frequently than ever before.

Increasing Sales with Promotion

Due to a larger variety and connection to real consumer desires, smaller and private manufacturers are finding sales success while also spending less on the promotion of their offerings. Larger corporations, on the other hand, have spent much more money than average on trade promotions. As of April 2017, sales based on advertising are accredited to 40% of large manufacturers’ sales, compared to 27% of small manufacturers’ sales.


As the demand for clean label products increases, more and more people will be willing to buy them, whether or not there are promotions. To adapt to the smaller manufacturers taking advantage of this trend, retailers and marketplaces must provide more space in order to account for the consumer demand. The long term success of this trend is still undefined. We will see how large brands respond. The most consistent way to adapt for large companies is through the acquisition of small manufacturers.

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Healthy Snack Bars Driving Category Sales

The healthy snack bar category grew by 2.08% from 2016 to 2017. This equated to $6 billion of sales in all snack bar categories. The growth of the snack bar industry is attributed to manufacturers offering a broad range of products to cater to the needs of different consumers.

According to culinary scientist Kyle Stuart, snack bars that feature all-natural ingredients are becoming too generic, and they fail to differentiate with customers these days. Consumers no longer want labels saying “all-natural” on their products. They want more specifications, so niche differentiation is a dominating trend in the snack bar market right now. This is the reason why snack bars are categorized depending on their purpose – energy provision, weight loss, meal replacement, snack, and so on.

Niche Differentiation Is Evident In The Snack Bar Industry

Niche differentiation of snack bars has resulted in category differentiation. There are now snack bars intended for daytime and evening consumption as well as those formulated with diet restrictions such as gluten-free, vegan, paleo, sugar-free, and much more.

The reason for niche differentiation is attributed to the growing needs of different consumers. For instance, some consumers buy a particular brand of snack bar because they opt for clean-label offerings while others buy because the ingredients used are simple and better for them.

Clean labeling is an important trend in the snack bar industry as many consumers value transparency. According to Carol Lowry, a senior food scientist at Cargill, product transparency is one of the biggest challenges food manufacturers, in general, are facing today. How can companies innovate while still using simple ingredients? It is something that’s hard to do especially if companies are after mass producing products that have longer shelf-lives.

Food Companies Are Starting To Innovate

Although challenging, this has presented an avenue for food manufacturers to explore and discover interesting combinations. For instance, the National Honey Board is now using natural sweeteners such as honey to make their breakfast biscuits and other products. Lowry and Cargill are looking into the use of vegetables and spices to provide savory flavors on their products instead of using artificial ingredients.

Food manufacturers are also looking into fortifying their products by using plant-based proteins sourced from beans, lentils, soy, nuts and many others. Food manufacturers see the need to incorporate such ingredients to their products to improve the nutrition profile and value of their snack bars.

And since it has been a long-standing issue that using clean ingredients produces products with lower shelf-life, food manufacturers are now using natural antioxidants like tocopherols instead of artificial preservatives to extend the shelf life of their products.

The Future Of The Snack Bar Category

The production of different kinds of snack bars has led to increased category innovation. While innovation involving the nutrition profile is the primary trend today, food scientists explain that there will be more changes in the future to improve the selling point of snack bars. Such innovations will tackle the texture and calorie count of products. Until then, consumers have a lot of things to look forward to when it comes to the snack bar industry.

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