These days you can’t have a conversation about food and beverage unless without talking about the clean-label movement. As consumers begin to look more closely at what goes into their food and beverages, the industry is reformulating and repositioning mainstream products and lines to have cleaner labels.
In fact, clean label is now much more than a trend and is now regarded as standard in the food industry. According to data from Innova Market Insights, more than 20 percent of new U.S. products tracked in 2014 featured a clean-label positioning, up from 17 percent in 2013.
Significant rises in the use of clean-label ingredients also have been tracked, with growing interest in natural sweeteners, such as stevia and monk fruit, natural colors such as those based on spirulina, elderberry and beetroot, and thickeners such as tragacanth and gellan gums.
Consumers are demanding shorter and more recognizable ingredients lists and manufacturers are responding by increasingly highlighting the naturalness and origins of their products. However, with growing concerns over the lack of a definition of “natural," there is a need for more clarity and specificity, with consumers, retailers, industry and regulators all driving the demand for more transparency in food labeling.
“This demand for clean labeling has now brought the need for clear labeling equally to the fore," said Lu Ann Williams, director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights, “resulting in a move to clearer and simpler claims and packaging for maximum transparency and necessitating an industry response in terms of reformulation and new communication strategies."
“From Clean to Clear Label" was identified by Innova Market Insights as the No. 1 in its top 10 trends for 2015, recognizing that it is no longer a niche area for the food and drinks industry.
Food product designers are paying attention to the trends and taking advantage of strategies and information to develop clean-label products that deliver the stability and sensory appeal consumers are used to, but doing so by swapping out less desirable ingredients for clean-label ones. Here at Food Product Design, we have been reporting on the clean-label trend taking place in many food and beverage applications. Check out the “Clean-Label Bars" Digital Issue that explores how formulators are tasked with finding clean-label ingredients, such as sweeteners, proteins, fibers and inclusions, which not only look good on a label but also yield a bar in perfect form with piece integrity, shelf longevity and palatability. Our “The Clean-Label Beverage Issue" that examines the top-three considerations when formulating clean-label beveragessweeteners, flavors and colors.
Our latest Digital Issue, “Pour it On: Cleaning Up Salad Dressing Labels" investigates how product developers are cleaning up the dynamic chemical system of salad dressings, and clean label’s impact on taste, texture, processing and ingredient restrictions.