Clean label offers major global opportunity

by Keith Nunes
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 Clean Label
Global sales of clean label food and beverage products may reach $180 billion by 2020. 
 

LAS VEGAS — Global sales of clean label food and beverage products may reach $180 billion by 2020, said Ewa Hudson, the global head of health and wellness, nutrition and ethical labels research for Euromonitor. In 2015, the market research firm estimated global sales of clean label products to be $165 billion, with North America generating $62 billion of that sales total.

Hudson issued a number of caveats about the data she presented Oct. 5 at SupplySide West, taking place Oct. 4-7 in Las Vegas. Specifically, she said the data, originally published by Euromonitor in Europe this past May, represents the company’s first effort to assess the size of the global clean label market. Euromonitor’s research also only encompassed 26 countries around the world and consisted of claims included on the front and back of product packaging.

Ewa
Ewa Hudson, global head of health and wellness, nutrition and ethical labels research for Euromonitor 

“We counted everything bottom up and only did branded products,” she said. “We know where each piece of data comes from.”

She added that the company’s 2020 forecast may appear conservative, but is a product of only collecting claims on packages for one year.

Marketing claims on labels Euromonitor classified as clean label included all natural, no artificial additives, no artificial colors, no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors, no artificial sweeteners, GMO free, BPA free and no monosodium glutamate.

 No
Among all of the claims included in Euromonitor's research, no artificial preservatives was the most frequently cited globally. 
 

“Such claims on the label are transparent, robust, clean and relevant,” Hudson said. “We were not looking at the ingredient side. We were just looking at labeling claims.”

Discussing how the clean label phenomenon emerged, Hudson said it is not due to a single event, but a series of incidents that occurred around the world. Whether it was melamine contamination in China, the selling of horse meat as other meat proteins in Europe, concern over the use of ingredients derived from the use of genetically modified organisms in the United States or news about negative research results about artificial colors, monosodium glutamate or aspartame, she said each contributed to raising consumer concerns.

“The movement to transparency and sustainability are part of the changes we are seeing on labels,” Hudson said. “The response to clean label is quite clear here. Large companies have begun to accelerate efforts with their main brands.”

 All Natural
Labeling a cereal as natural or contains seeds and other nutrients may change the product's image. 
 

Interestingly, Hudson added that developing clean label products may be attractive to smaller companies entering the market, because the compliance efforts required to make some clean label claims are less onerous than developing functional products that feature a health benefit that requires an investment to ensure the claim is accurate.

“Clean label is a tool to reestablish trust,” Hudson said. “But look at what is happening in cereals. Labeling a product is natural and contains seeds or other nutrients can change a product’s image. Packaged food is a prime area for clean label.”

Based on Euromonitor’s 2015 data, she said packaged food is the largest clean label category at $128 billion in sales. Product categories with growth potential include dairy, juice, sauces, dressings and condiments, baked foods, and oils and fats.

 Clean Label
Product categories with growth potential include dairy, juice, sauces, dressings and condiments, baked foods, and oil and fats. 
 

Among all of the claims included in Euromonitor’s research, no artificial preservatives was the most frequently cited globally. In North America, the most cited claim was all natural.

Clean label claims are specific across regions,” Hudson said.

Going forward, Hudson said the clean label category may become “quite blurry.”

 All Natural
In North America, the most cited claim was all natural. 
 

“What is healthy these days?” she said. “When I started working on health and wellness 10 years ago it was products with reduced fat, reduced sugar, gluten-free, etc. It was straight forward. Then consumers realized some brands were being reformulated with more ingredients. Then we saw the movement to health around protein, good carbs, whole grains and seeds as opposed to reduced fat or reduced sugar.”

At each stage she said manufacturers have responded and they are now responding to providing product transparency to consumers.

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