Almost 80% of Consumers Look For Products With a Fewer Ingredients

Most consumers these days think about their health and the environment whenever they are shopping. According to the Market Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) of 2017, shoppers are opting for products that have fewer ingredients and clean product labels. Activities related to this include buying plant-based, non-GMO, and organic products to show support to the planet and their health.

In the same study, 8 out of 10 consumers are now conscious, about their health and opt to buy products with fewer ingredients that they can understand and pronounce. Most consumers are not afraid to ditch their old grocery stores for shops that offer products with clean labels. This resulted in the popularity of farmer’s markets and health food stores.  As a result, many of retail supermarkets are now carrying clean label products to increase their market reach.  Examples of these retail giants include Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, Target, and Price Clubs.

Millennials Opt For Clean Labels with Simple Ingredients

consumers want fewer simple ingredientsBut who drives the whole clean label movement? In the survey, Market LOHAS noted that millennials occupy most of the pie, at about 60%, while the older generation is not so keen on the advantages of clean labels.  The younger generation worries too much about the effects of using harmful ingredients in food while the older consumers stress the importance of allergy related label claims.

The thing is that more and more Millennials are health conscious because this is the generation of sick people. With the presence of fast-food restaurants and a plethora of processed junk food, it is easy for this generation to suffer from metabolic-related diseases like obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

What Drives Their Purchase

Almost 70% of Americans buy free-from food products mainly for health and nutritional reasons. In fact,  personal well-being is one of the most important driving factors that push people to buy products with clean labels. There is also a growing belief that free-from foods are also linked to having a healthy planet. For instance, cage-free poultry is believed to be better for the body and the world because the animals are grown in a humane way.

Another driving factor that pushes people to buy products with clean labels is the company’s ethics. In fact, 56% of the respondents claim that they refuse to buy from a company whose products are perceived to be produced by unethical means. This has also driven companies to adhere to better policies when it comes to manufacturing their products.

Consumption of products with clean labels is not only healthy and ethical, but it is also sustainable for the environment. While more expensive, people are willing to spend extra more to be able to buy products that they believe are not only good for their health but also the environment.

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Study Shows That Consumers Do Not Understand Clean Labels

Clean labels can be defined as an understandable declaration of what is inside the food that we eat. Jargon indicating artificial ingredients like preservatives and synthetic additives are banned from the ingredient list. As much as possible, only natural ingredients are used in making clean label foods.

This particular term has been very popular since last year, and many food manufacturers and retail distributors have joined the bandwagon of producing and selling more foods with clean labels. The purpose of clean labeling is noble, but it seems that only a few consumers understood what clean labeling is all about.

What People Think About Clean Labels?

What do people think of clean labels? Some consumers believe that products with clean labels mean “free from” products. Customers automatically believe that products that are gluten-free, fat-free, and sugar-free are synonymous with clean labeling. But this is not necessarily true. You have to take note that clean labels use natural and easily understood ingredients.

In fact, more than 30% of the American population think clean label products are free from synthetic ingredients while another 30% believes that they are made from organic and natural ingredients. The remaining population has no clue what clean label means.

The misconception about clean labeling can be dangerous. The assumption that clean label products are gluten-free, for example, can lead to severe allergic reactions especially to people who are suffering from celiac disease. Moreover, clean labeling does not protect individuals from the unknown hazards of food additives especially those used in the packaging of the food. The thing is that just because clean labeling omits the use of synthetic ingredients does not mean that the packaging is already safe. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, packaging may still contain hazardous chemicals like perchlorate and phthalates that can enter the food.

Setting A Clear Definition

Establishing a clear definition of clean labeling is imperative, and until there is an official definition from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Food and Drug Administration (FDA), food manufacturers and retail distributors will continue to take advantage of the opportunity. If this continues, consumers will most likely be confused with the definition just like healthy and natural.

Unfortunately, both the USDA and FDA have not yet committed to devoting their time to giving a precise definition of the term. But although the government failed to make a definition for clean label, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has created its definition that clean label uses substances–even with long names– that are safe although some are not. Clean label products are also healthier than their non-clean label counterparts since they are made from real food rather than synthetic imitations. Still, the absence of artificial ingredients does not make them too healthy as they can still contain excess amounts of salt and sugar.

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Shoppers Willing To Spend Extra For Ingredients They Recognize

Most shoppers today are more aware of the food and beverage products they buy. They opt for products made from organic and natural ingredients, and they value the transparency of product labels more than ever before.

In a recent survey conducted by Ingredients Communications, it revealed that 52% consumers are willing to spend 10% more on food products that contain ingredients they trust and recognize. The survey interviewed 1,300 consumers from North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific. The survey also noted that 18% of the respondents are willing to pay more than 10% for reliable brands.

Consumers from the United States are the ones most prepared to pay extra to 44% of the respondents responding yes. This is followed by shoppers from the Asia-Pacific including the Philippines (29%) and Malaysia (26%) indicating that Asia is an emerging market for food companies who want to improve their transparency and recognizability of the ingredients they use.

Co-Branding Allows Shoppers to Recognize Reliable Products Easily

So, what does this survey imply? It simply points to the importance of having clean labeling on food and beverage products. Consumers are becoming aware that many food companies are now using synthetic or artificial ingredients to make their products. These ingredients are now known to cause negative side effects to the body. The movement of going back to basics which include buying products made from all natural ingredients is becoming popular. Food manufacturers are using this movement to their advantage by rebranding their products and co-branding with their suppliers.

Co-branding has become hugely popular in the clean labeling movement. According to the director of Ingredient Communications, Richard Clarke, co-branding has been used in the tech industry to sell products like laptops. If the food industry uses it, it will be easier for the consumers to know which brands to trust because they have partnered with other reliable brands and ingredient suppliers. This will result in higher spending, repeat purchase, and stronger loyalty to the company.

While co-branding is a great way for shoppers to easily recognize the ingredients and brand of the product that they want to buy, it may lead to higher prices. This leaves food companies to shop around from among its co-branded suppliers to find ingredients that are also cheaper. Successful branding is still resulting in more revenues because shoppers are willing to pay more for products that are made from familiar ingredients.

Shoppers Make Informed Decisions When Shopping

While co-branding is a great strategy to make ingredients more recognizable to the consumers by partnering with equally reliable companies, there are other factors that influence the product choices and decisions of consumers. Today, many consumers are very critical about the decisions that they make when it comes to buying different types of products. With their savvy abilities and increasing awareness, they are able to recognize which ingredients are good and which ones are not. The ability to distinguish the good from the bad ingredients make consumers want to pay more.

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Clean Labels: From Trend To Movement

Today’s consumer is more interested in eating fresher and cleaner foods. Industry experts have noticed that many food companies have adopted the movement for cleaner foods.  Companies like Campbell’s Soup and PepsiCo have implemented food transparency through clean labeling. There is also a rise in food start-ups applying clean labels with their new products.

Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, Suzanne Ginestro from Campbell Soup, noted that modern consumers are moving towards cleaner labels, transparency, as well as opting for products that are healthier and have ingredients that are easier to understand. People want transparency on all kinds of products from household cleaning supplies to electronics. Consumers just want to know what is inside the products they are using.

Why Transparency And Clean Labeling? 

So why are people so particular about clean labeling and transparency? Becky Frankiewicz from Quaker Foods North America indicated that consumers want to have more choices and this can only be achieved if they know the ingredients of the products they are buying.

While clean labels promote companies to indicate all ingredients on their labels, it does not mean that they should only focus on healthy ingredients yet. Companies have adopted the clean label movement to prove that they care about their consumers and their products. It also enables consumers to make informed decisions about their purchases.

Some food manufacturers still include ingredients that will make their products more palatable and that means using fat and sugar. The clean label is there to educate consumers about the types of ingredients utilized in the product. It is all about giving customers access to different food choices.

Clean Label: Trend or Movement?

What started out as a fad has become a movement that will surely stay. Today, many food startups have found success in introducing healthier foods and beverages to consumers. Large food companies are also capitalizing on the opportunity by introducing healthier product choices to their customers. Executives from large food manufacturing companies noted that the clean label movement had pushed brands to go back to their old business practices.

For instance, the 140-year old company Quaker Foods first started using fresh ingredients and developed ways to package their products so that it is easier for the consumers who live in urban places to enjoy healthy foods—similar to those living on the farm.

From trend to movement, clean labels are here to stay. Brands that focus on delivering healthy food with simple ingredients will win, plain and simple. Don’t be surprised to see more acquisitions of small, successful brands over the next five years as large companies like PepsiCo try to a secure a competitive advantage in this evolving space.

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Confectionery Industry Goes Clean Label

The confectionery market in the United States had an estimated value of $35.86 billion in 2016. The value is expected to rise to over $38.19 billion in the next four years. According to a market research company, Technavio, confectionery companies sold a total of 7.31 billion pounds of products last year.

The slow forecast of growth for the confectionery industry (0.81%) made industry leaders think twice about what they need to do to improve their sales. Strategies such as acquisitions, diversifying the portfolio, and alignment with consumer trends have been implemented. One of the strategies that this particular industry implemented was clean labeling.

Confectionery Challenges In Clean Labeling

The candy industry is known to use different flavors and vibrant colors of using artificial flavors and dye. The growing consumer demand for transparency and simple ingredients is a difficult situation for candy companies.

However, confectionery companies plan to stay true to their promise of clean labeling. In February this year, Mars, Inc. pledged to remove artificial colors from their gum, chocolate, and other food products within the next five years. Other confectionery giants like Nestle and Hershey’s followed suit.

Currently, most products produced by Mars, Inc. no longer contain artificial colors, but the company is still doing its best to clean their products from synthetic ingredients thoroughly. The challenge here is how candy companies will make their colorful candies like Skittles and M&M’s more natural.

While the purpose of clean labeling is to benefit the company and the consumers, the cost associated with it can be very immense. Using natural ingredients require substantial investments particularly for the smaller confectionery companies. It can be hard for smaller businesses to move in the direction of non-GMO and natural confectionery and it can take its toll in the economies of scale for the candy company.

Taste Still Rules in Priorities

With the challenges that lie in making confectionery without the use of artificial flavors and colors, most candy companies are now prioritizing the taste and quality of their products.  Marketing communications manager for Wrigley, Michelle Green, noted that consumers are not so keen at compromising the taste of their favorite sweets.

This has led companies to innovate on the types of products that they produce. In the recent Sweets & Snacks Expo, bold flavors were featured, and new lines of snack options were created including chocolate barks and bites that come with unusual flavor combinations like oranges, blueberries, and pomegranates.

Fruit combinations with conventional confectionary are not only an interesting take on healthy snacks, but it also helps improve the flavor without using artificial flavors and sweeteners. According to Susan Whiteside from the Washington chapter of the National Confectioners Association, chocolate and fruit combination will be the top trend in the confectionery industry that has increased forecasted revenue by as much as 116%.

Clean labeling is a popular trend in the food industry, and while some have quickly adapted to the trend, the confectionery industry finds a lot of obstacles for now.

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Beverage Manufacturers Leaning Towards More Natural Ingredients

With the continuing rise of “better-for-you” products, beverage companies have incorporated healthy ingredients to their new drinks. Today, the latest trend in the industry is functional beverages.  Functional beverages are defined as refreshing drinks that come with a multitude of health benefits. To incorporate these benefits into their products, beverage brands have used herbal extracts and natural sugars to amplify the nutritional value of the drinks and improve the natural flavor of the beverage.

Diversity in Natural Beverages

Although the use of natural ingredients is on the rise for many beverage companies, the challenge lies on how companies should reinvent flavors. With many fruits and vegetables in their arsenal, it is quite challenging to find great matches for vegetables like cucumber, beets, and carrots. Traditionally, they have worked with different fruits and spices like berries, apples, mint, and ginger.

In today’s society, where modern consumers are empowered with tons of new information connecting their health to the food they eat, consumers have a high affinity towards a healthy diet and a good quality of life. It is the reason why they are not hesitant to spend extra for nutritious foods and beverages. There are also many people who have shifted their diets to vegan and vegetarian. These people follow a particular diet with many restrictions. In the United States alone, the number of vegans and vegetarians continues to rise.

The healthy drink industry has diversified to meet the demands of many clients. Today, you can find healthy energy drinks that are not laden with caffeine, artificial sugar, and other derivatives. Healthy energy drinks are now made up of natural ingredients that are much cleaner and better fo you than traditional energy drink ingredients. Examples of ingredients that are used in creating healthy energy drinks include tea, guarana, and other natural sweeteners. 

healthy beverage fruits vegetables fruve 15 nutrifusion grandfusionThe Effects of  Healthy Beverage Development

So, what is the effect of this shift observed in beverage companies? The use of healthy fruits and vegetables has triggered new impulses regarding drinking such beverages. For instance, beverage companies would never dare to use vegetables in making their drinks. But now, vegetables are the main ingredients in creating healthy drinks and, surprisingly, it provides a harmonious complement with fruits. A fantastic example is a fast growing company called Fruve, with a variety of fruit and vegetable based ingredients, Fruve is developing 15 servings of fruits and vegetables per bottle.

Clean Labeling Trend

As mentioned earlier, the other trend that beverage manufacturers are keen to implementing is clean labeling. Clean labeling encourages companies to become transparent with the ingredients that they use to make their drinks. It emphasizes the customers’ demands to choose products that are made from natural sources. Significant growth is possible in healthy and natural beverage development. It will be interesting to see how the industry players strategize to win this new market share.

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The Clean Label Project: Helping You Understand Your Food Beyond Its Ingredients

Food manufacturing has come a long way. From the simple backyard garden, our grandparents tended before the industrial revolution to the establishment of the first grocery stores during the pre-war times. It is no wonder that the food that we are eating now is very different from what our grandparents ate in their time. Today, food is not as authentic and filled with harmful substances like antibiotics, BPA, and arsenic.

The Clean Label Project was established to understand better all of the ingredients found in the food we are eating. Led by Doug Porter, this non-profit organization aims to test different food items for the presence of harmful substances in the hopes of providing cleaner food supply to consumers.

What Is the Clean Label Project?

clean label projectFounded two years ago, the Clean Label Project is a non-profit group that is concerned about the purity and safety of today’s food. It is led by people from all walks of life, but most of them have a background in the food industry. The group aims to answer questions related to the origin of our foods and increase the transparency of food issues such as GMO labeling, revamping the nutrition facts, and implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The group has analyzed baby food since it was founded and looked at the ingredients as well as the composition of the products. They also examined the normal levels of substances found in food so that they can develop an algorithm that will help food manufacturers know the appropriate amount of elements that they can use. It is their mission to create a society where people are not worried about what’s inside their food.

How Do Toxic Substances Get into Our Food?

With the high demand of consumers for clean food, food manufacturers should improve their products by providing traceability for their customers. Another mystery that The Clean Label Project wants to solve is how the harmful substances find their way into the food that we eat.

There are many ways food can be contaminated by harmful substances. The industrialization of agriculture may contaminate crops and produce with pesticides and fertilizers. On the other hand, other ways that foods may have contaminated may come during the processing, packing, and transportation of the food.

Pinpointing where these harmful substances come from can help food manufacturers take steps in improving their processes to solve the problem down the line completely.

Transforming The Concept of Clean Labeling

clean label projectClean labeling is not just about knowing the types of ingredients used in making a particular food product. It also knows where your food comes from and how it is made with the Clean Label Project, the non-profit organization aims to transform how people look at the concept of clean labeling.

Using clean labeling does not only reflect the quality of food that manufacturers make, but it also reflects their sincerity in helping consumers attain good health through the foods that they eat.

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Nielsen Says Consumers Are Now Ingredient Inspectors

With the advent of healthy living and clean eating, more people all over the world now practice due diligence when it comes to their food. In the recent Nielsen’s Global Health and Ingredient-Sentiment Survey, 70% of the respondents said that they make dietary choices to avoid health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Nielsen has nicknamed these consumers the “ingredient inspectors.”


People Are Willing to Pay More for Healthy Foods

Around 68% of the respondents surveyed agreed that they are willing to pay more for healthy food and beverages. This was supported by U.S. retail sales data which indicated that the sales of health and wellness products are outpacing other types of fast-moving consumer goods.

According to Director Andrew Mandzy from Neilsen’s Strategic Health and Wellness Insights group, most consumers want to eat healthily. But they need the commitment from food manufacturers to create products that are made from simple and clean ingredients. Consumers depend on food companies to develop “better-for-you” products that are still convenient for their busy lifestyles.


Reasons for The Rise in Ingredient Inspectors

So why is there a rising trend in the food and wellness industry? Perhaps one of the reasons is food sensitivity or intolerance. The same survey conducted by Neilsen indicated that 36% of the respondents revealed that they opted for healthy foods because they are suffering from allergies or live with someone who does. The rise of lactose intolerance and seafood allergies was cited by 12% of the respondents.

Aside from food allergies, many consumers are actively excluding several ingredients from their diets. This motivation to eliminate certain foods can be brought about by religious influences or just small lifestyle decisions. Regardless, 64% of the respondents follow diets that prohibit certain foods or ingredients. For instance, 84% of the African and Middle Eastern respondents reveal that they follow a special diet as cited by their religion.  Respondents from Asia-Pacific scored 72% on the survey indicating that they support it for lifestyle and religious purposes. Most of them adhered to a vegetarian diet as reflective of their beliefs. Only 44%  of people living in North America and Europe cited motivation from religion to exclude ingredients in their food.


In the global survey, it was indicated that sugar is the most common ingredient that is eliminated by 31% of the respondents. Others limit their intake of carbohydrates and sodium for health reasons. Many of the interviewees are well aware of the effects caused by the foods they eat. In fact, 75% of people are anxious about the long-term impacts of incorporating synthetic ingredients into their food. Most of the respondents avoid foods that contain preservatives, coloring, and artificial flavors.

Consumers are demanding better food, and it’s up to food companies to supply this growing demand. It’s up to food companies to capitalize on the new opportunity and win customers with new healthy options.

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