How major food manufacturers can clean up their act

21 May, 2019

Today’s consumers are far more concerned with the integrity of the food and drink they consume. How should manufacturers of food and beverage products respond?

What is clean label?

Clean label is the term which describes the consumer demand for naturally, minimally processed food and beverages containing as few ingredients as possible. Overwhelmingly consumers following this trend want food that comes from a kitchen not a laboratory.

Indeed, buying decisions are increasingly based on what consumers perceive to be ‘better’ for them and on the fit of the product to the lifestyle they are choosing to lead. To a consumer, clean label may denote many attributes including: free-from (e.g. GM, dairy, allergens, etc.); nutritional wholesomeness; a shorter ingredient list on pack; an absence of artificial ingredients - or indeed ingredients explicitly labelled “organic”; recognisable authentic ingredients (which they may find in their kitchen at home); or products which demonstrate a lower level of processing.

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How can manufacturers respond

The evidence shows that there are big rewards for manufacturers and brands that can respond: consumers are not only willing to pay more, but would switch from their current brand to one that offers more transparency.

For packaged foods and beverages, this is fuelling the need for streamlined formulations, transparency on labels, with transparent product claims and ingredients lists in the expectation that they will be scrutinised and evaluated.

Already, a number of food and beverage manufacturers have developed products and supply chains to enable clean label claims. Examples range from yogurt, where Yofix Probiotics promise “a unique blend of oats, legumes and seeds”4, to baked goods, where Dewys markets products that “are crafted with real, simple ingredients”5. In beverages, juice manufacturers, such as Refresco, champion sustainable supply chains6. And in brewing, the proliferation of artisanal breweries claiming short ingredient lists and highlighting ingredient provenance, underline the penetration of the trend in this sector.

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