CHICAGO — Clean label is no longer a trend – it’s the rule, according to Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands. The industry must respond with product reformulations and new communication strategies, an analyst for the market research firm said during a series of presentations at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food expo held July 11-14 in Chicago.
Innova identified emerging trends across the hundreds of thousands of new products launched globally in the past year, led by the rise and rise of clean and clear labeling. “Clean label is definitely moving beyond claims and going from clean to clear,” said Yasemin Ozdemir, market analyst for Innova. “Cleaner products can be anything from being honest about what is in your product… to having claims on your packaging, for example, no artificial colorings, flavorings or sweeteners… to reformulating, such as taking ingredients out or having (fewer) ingredients. It’s also about communicating brand strategy on social media (and) reaching out to your consumers about ingredients you use or don’t use.”
What’s driving the movement towards clean and clear labeling? Consumers, who want to understand what they eat; companies, which have adopted such voluntary initiatives as front-of-pack calorie displays to help consumers make more informed choices; regulators, who are in part pushing the disclosure of additional information and transparency with new laws in certain markets; and the media, represented by bloggers and television personalities who may sway a shopper’s purchasing habits on a positive or negative endorsement of a given ingredient.
“Companies are doing a lot already to try to increase transparency about their ingredients and educating consumers on their websites and on the packaging with understandable ingredient labels,” Ozdemir said.
Growing claims on products include organic, which was in 7.4 percent of 2014 global product launches, no hormones or antibiotics, which appeared in 4.8 percent of 2014 global yogurt launches and 6 percent of poultry introductions, and non-GMO, which was featured on 3.3 percent of global product launches in 2014, up from 2.4 percent in 2013.
Three-fourths of consumers in the United States claim to read the nutritional and ingredient labels of food products, and nearly as many “strongly agree” it is important for food labels to contain mostly recognizable ingredients.
“It’s not just about slapping a claim on a product, but consumers are increasingly trying to be health-conscious and informed about what they eat,” Ozdemir said. “What’s in the product? Once they know what is in there and feel that companies are being transparent, then they feel it is trustworthy. It’s a good way for the packaged food industry to regain trust…”