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Is clean label driving supply chain transparency? [Interview]

Clean label is quickly affecting the whole supply chain. We asked Florencia Moreno Torres, Market Analyst at Innova to share some insights into the clean label trend’s rapid rise and how it will evolve in the next few years.

How has the clean label trend evolved over the last couple of years and where is it going next?

‘The clean label trend has evolved from just claiming “No additives/preservatives”, “organic”, or “natural” into a more holistic approach, involving as many steps in the food chain as possible. Namely, animal welfare, total transparency in the process and final products, the use of shorter ingredients lists which consumers can identify easily, and the overall use of cleaner ingredients (for example coloring foods).’

What does clean label mean to consumers? Do you think this aligns with the industry’s definition?

‘Clean label still remains a rather broad term, and its perception varies across consumers. However, it is known that consumers tend to perceive products as cleaner when they contain familiar and easy to understand ingredients.’

‘Yes, the industry is increasingly aligning with consumers’ demands and perceptions, for example, by providing claims and explicit information regarding the products’ processing and formulation (transparency). Of course there is still a long way to go, but undoubtedly the first big steps towards aligning consumer/industry regarding clean label have been taken.’

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As consumers become more aware of labelling and certifications etc. how will this impact the F&B industry?

‘Companies are stepping up to meet consumers’ demands and differentiate from the competition. It is expected that this increasing awareness on the consumers’ side will keep on driving more product development and innovation, setting new and higher standards for the industry.’

Can you share any examples of companies or products who have communicated their clean label claims well?

‘Mars which is phasing out artificial colors from their portfolio and are betting on natural coloring ingredients, we can find these “free from artificial colors” claims on front of pack ages, potentially working as a key purchasing factor.’

‘PepsiCo which has launched a new line of sparkling beverages (IZZE Fusions and LemonLemon), which claim to be free from artificial sweeteners or flavors and rely on a blend of stevia (natural sweetener) and cane sugar to achieve its sweet flavor, differentiating clearly from similar products that might be usingartificial sweetenersor flavors.’

What are your predictions for the F&B industry in general over the next 3-5 years?

‘The key driving trends across most F&B are still clean label/clean supreme and free from. The industry isexpected to keep on innovating and to ride and benefit from these trends.’

‘Along with this, there is a major focus on any plant-based opportunity. Dairy alternatives and meat replacers will push forward not only plant-based products but also ingredients such as alternative proteins, healthy herbs & spices and coloring foods, some of which, at the same time, may overlap with clean label or free from-adding an extra value to the product.’

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