In the last few years, consumers have become much more aware and assertive on the kind of products they are using in their house; especially, in their kitchen. This trend has paced up a lot more post the outbreak of global pandemic of COVID-19.
The food packaging industry, therefore, now has to ensure that they match the trust demanded by the consumers by providing them a clarity on the ingredients used in manufacturing of a food item.
According to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) reports, almost two out of three respondents claim that ingredients have a moderate influence on their food and beverage purchases.
Also, consumers prefer to go by package ingredient information over online sources while shopping before purchasing any item. This has further driven the need for clean label information on consumables.
Clean label ingredients are the food industry’s response to increasing consumer demand for consumables without questionable ingredients such as aspartame, brominated vegetable oil, artificial dyes, and caramel color.
According to a study from BIS Research, the global clean label ingredients market was valued at $19.77 billion in 2020, and is expected to reach $32.08 billion by 2026; growing at a CAGR of 8.65%.
Importance of Ingredient Transparency
Consumers’ focus has grown toward the food’s source, quality, and nutritional value in recent years. This is reflected through the spurring sales of organic products and requests and preferences from consumers to either avoid or reduce the use of additives in processed food products.
As a result, labels such as “free-from” are used on the packaging for products that have been reformulated to taste like homemade recipes, minus adultered ingredients.
Ingredient transparency dives deep into the sources of the substances used in the food and the practices followed to get them. Nowadays, consumers want a full description and a summary of the ingredients used in the food, simply to make sure whether the ingredients used in the food are safe or not.
Consumers believe that it is their right to know the desired information related to the food ingredients. One should know the method and how it will influence long-term health, the company’s labor policies, and environmental sustainability position.
According to consumers, the “why” and “how” aspects of products are the primary decision-making criteria driving the purchases. This has transformed the fast-moving consumer good (FMCG) companies’ strategy to develop and market their products.
According to a recent survey reporting from a product data company, Label Insight, about 39% of the U.S. consumers claimed to switch from the currently preferred brands to others that offer clean label ingredients infused products.
Additionally, about 73% of consumers reported that they feel positive about brands that provide the “why behind the buy” information about their products. Furthermore, about 68% of consumers showed their willingness to pay more for food and beverages containing clean ingredients.
Also, in certain cases, about 53% of consumers reported that excluding undesirable ingredients is of utmost importance than the inclusion of beneficial ingredients. Looking across the FMCG space, the majority of the purchases resort to clean label products.
Trends Influencing the Growth of Clean Label Ingredients
New technologies and food science play a major role in aiding the food ingredient manufacturers to innovate solutions to cater to the consumer-fueled clean label megatrend. Here are some of the market trends that are shaping the clean label ingredients industry;
Nutritional Label Transparency Is Becoming More Popular
To ensure that clean label ingredients maintain and expand their reach and taste, product developers are paying greater heed to the nutrition profiles. For instance, clean plant ingredients provide unique health benefits and nutritional parity for animal alternatives which can be a potential opportunity for the food manufacturers targeting to enter the food & beverage industry; the infant food market, in particular.
The clean label trend embracing a broader remit to include sustainable products and deliver health benefits is likely to gain a wider application and acceptance among consumers.
Strong Preference for Organic Food
A few years ago, consumers were increasingly concerned about the inclusion or consumption of artificial ingredients in food and beverages. Post the pandemic, many consumers have limited their purchase frequency of junk food and drinks and gradually aimed for food products having longer shelf-life and healthy attributes.
Significant demand for organic food as a source of preventative health measures is pushing awareness for clean labeled organic consumables. As a result, food firms seek to differentiate their offers by promoting certified and labeled organic products with extensive ingredient information.
Many new organic customers choose clean labeled organic items over specific organic brands. For example, an individual may constantly buy organically branded consumables such as organic milk, organic juice, and organic cereal, but not from a specific organic product brand.
In addition, rising consumer demand for organic food and beverages has prompted producers to expand into new product categories such as processed meals, non-alcoholic beverages, and snack versions.
Consumption of Artificial Food
Artificial food ingredients, such as sweeteners, are most commonly avoided by consumers, followed by salt, nitrates, fats, preservatives, and sugar.
People prefer food and beverage goods with “no artificial ingredients” on the label, followed by “no preservatives” and “natural,” indicating that the majority of customers are leaning toward clean labeling.
The health concerns connected with artificial ingredients have long-term consequences. Increased consumption of food infused with artificial additives has increased gut illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and gut dysbiosis.
The growing awareness of the health risks caused by greater consumption of artificial additive-infused foods and beverages has promoted the clean label trend.
To summarize, consumers’ growing reference to clean eating has spilled over into food labeling. Despite the introduction of food legislation, the evolution of the food processing sector is striving to meet the expectation of the consumers. New products with complex labels and detailed product attribute descriptions are being introduced in the market.