Moving from Trend to Norm: Clean Label Consumerism

Consumer interest in clean label or natural ingredients continues to rise. Approximately 50–75% of consumers believe that products with natural ingredients or fewer ingredients — or foods with other attributes such as better nutrition, environmental sustainability or ethical sourcing — qualify as clean label. Consumers are lately paying more attention to the labels, lists of ingredients, nutritional values and claims. The clean label ingredients can be identified as emulsifiers, stabilizer, and thickeners (EST), flavor, preservatives, colorants, and others. They are applicable in various industries including bakery & confectionery, dairy & frozen desserts, beverages, oils & fats, snacks, meat products, and others.

Clean label is a growing opportunity globally owing to the health concerns over adverse health effects of artificial ingredients and increasing consumer awareness on the use of consumer-friendly ingredients that are natural, organic, allergen free, non-GMO etc. While posing numerous benefits to society, these label claims help people make healthier decisions at the grocery store, make the food industry more sustainable and improve our relationship with the environment. But as consumer demand for healthy, all-natural products continues to climb, the food industry is struggling to adapt. Manufacturers are scrambling to make a switch to more natural foods with fewer artificial ingredients. To catch up with the clean label norms, they are vying for real ingredients from natural sources that can withstand the rigors of processing, create an attractive food or beverage with an enticing taste and mouthfeel, and supply a decent shelf life.

Natural & Healthy Ingredients at the Forefront:

Changing consumer demand is forcing some of the largest food manufacturers in the world to rethink some of their most successful products. Consumers, have largely been the ones driving new clean label trend, demanding that companies offer healthier products at their local grocery store. Clean labels and these revised ingredients lists are an attempt to woo over health-conscious consumers. But without a verified set of standards behind the movement, major corporations are struggling to understand what the term “clean label” means and how their decisions will impact their bottom line.

Consumers can’t seem to agree on what ingredients should be considered clean and unclean. clean label natural foodsNatural sweeteners like fruit juice and cane sugar may be too indulgent for some consumers, but for others, this could be the perfect replacement for high fructose corn syrup. All this uncertainty is keeping food manufacturers on their toes as they struggle to understand their customers’ specific concerns. As a result, some of the largest packaged food manufacturers are seeing a drop-in sale.

clean label natural foods

Some manufacturers have struggled to find the balance between switching to natural, clean ingredients and maintaining profits. Returning to the days of using traditional dairy ingredients or eggs, for example, presents issues with price volatility, refrigeration and storage costs, shorter shelf lives, new equipment needs, sourcing, and a host of other challenges. Adding to the difficulty is reformulating products with new ingredients while maintaining the flavor and consistency of the original recipe.

But food manufacturers will need to raise the bar to remain competitive. Consumers want healthy, natural, simple foods, and are actively avoiding foods made with chemical modifiers. This is the core of the clean label movement, and food manufacturers must keep pace by removing artificial ingredients and chemical modifiers from their applications, and replacing them with clean, natural alternatives.

Shift in Consumer Spending Pattern:

The trending technologies & rise of eCommerce shopping is lately exposing customers to a multitude of options when it comes to buying food. All the newer shopping resources are easily connecting consumers with smaller, independent food manufacturers that are a part of the clean label movement. It is becoming way easier for them to order organic, all-natural products from all over the country, instead of having to depend on whatever their local grocery has on the shelf.

As private label food products now make up a considerable portion of all grocery store sales, legacy brands are starting to see a dip in sales. Major food manufacturers have started scouting for ways to get involved with this shift towards smaller, independent food producers.

The New Disclosure Trend- Ingredient transparency & Sustainability:

While clean label refers to a certain type of food, ingredient transparency is something that applies to all foods and beverages. A recent report indicated that the majority of shoppers have transparency on their minds and that most of them would feel a higher sense of trust toward food manufacturers that had complete and easy-to-understand ingredients. The increasing demand for clean & clear labels have strong ramifications for the manufacturers. New product development, product reformulation, and public understanding and acceptance are all impacted.

Keeping product tasty and providing clear nutrition labelling are the key factors influencing consumer appeal when it comes to food & beverage production & reformulations in India. Today’s consumers are demanding to know more about the ingredients they consume, and they want to know exactly what’s in their products, how they were sourced and produced, how they might affect their health, how any animals involved in the process were treated, and more. Consumers are highly influenced by being aware of ingredients used in the food they consume which is driving the clean label ingredients market globally.

Transparency and clean labels should go hand-in-hand and will be two priorities food manufacturers need to strive for going forward if they want to increase market share and appeal to these trends that are quickly becoming the norm.

To achieve those goals, choosing a supplier that values the same things and follows a strict chain of custody is key.

At HL Agro, we know how important these initiatives are and we take great pride in producing our food ingredients the right way. We procure the NON-GMO sesame seeds from the fertile lands and process them in the most hygienic manner using least of chemical resources to retain the purity & nutritive value of the seeds. Intelligent, sustainable sourcing coupled with precise information of the source helps us in addressing the clean label concerns of our worldwide customers. Safe food is integral to HL Agro’s business. An environment friendly approach is touted all across the supply chain to keep a vigilant eye on the hazardous materials & carbon emissions.

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