Clean Label Is the New Norm, Research Finds

Clean Label

New research conducted on behalf of Ingredion shows consumers are now living in the age of clean label, with consumers’ scrutiny of products extending beyond the label and ingredients, pushing and expanding the definition of clean label to include issues such as packaging, food waste, and sourcing.

The findings are part of “The Age of Clean Label” report, which was released during Food Ingredients Europe 2019, earlier in December.

The study draws together the views of European consumers and leading food and beverage manufacturers across the UK, Germany, France, and Poland. It looks at how the definition of clean label is evolving, the hard truths of the new clean label landscape, and what this means for manufacturers.

“Clean label is now an undeniable and established trend and one which presents a growing opportunity for our industry. While our ongoing research reveals that different markets are at different stages of their clean label journey, what is clear is that consumer confidence is growing with ethical sourcing, food waste, and unnecessary packaging now an important part of the equation,” said Charlotte Commarmond, senior director of Marketing and Innovation, Ingredion EMEA.

As mentioned above, the report outlines three key themes shaping the landscape in the age of clean label:

  • Clean label redefined: consumers are looking for total transparency from the food and beverage industry. This trend is on the rise, with 62% of European consumers stating that their interest in how food is sourced, produced and packaged has increased in the last two years. However, manufacturers need to consider that not all markets are at the same stage of their clean label journey and they will need to align accordingly.
  • The hard truths: consumers want – and can recognize – substance over style. A product’s physical appearance has become a significant influence. However, attractive on-pack designs with natural colors and idyllic imagery rated lowest on purchasing influence.
  • What this means for manufacturers: while consumer tastes and trends move fast, clean label ingredients can help make new product development quicker. As well as reducing undesirable ingredients, 27% of consumers also think manufacturers should focus on reducing packaging waste as a top priority. Producers need to show environmentally-conscious consumers that their food has been produced and packaged, sustainably and ethically.

“Shopper scrutiny is going beyond the ingredients list and building trust with consumers in the new age of clean label means manufacturers must come clean on all areas of product development. For example, the new research revealed that a product’s physical appearance has become a significant influence, with 39% of consumers saying they look for transparent (see-through) packaging to help decide which products will go in their basket. But the appetite for transparency doesn’t stop there for today’s information-hungry consumer; 360-degree transparency is becoming “must-have” for everyone across the supply chain and we expect this to rise over the next few years,” concluded Commarmond.

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