Clean label evolves to represent the health of people and the planet

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KANSAS CITY – Taste, nutrition and sustainability determine consumer perceptions of Clean Label products. Over the years, the importance of sustainability and health benefits of products all around the fresh perimeter has steadily increased, noted Soumya Nair, director of marketing information for North America for the group. Kerry based in Tralee, Ireland.

“Consumers seeking transparency are curious about the claims, certifications and ingredients of their foods and beverages to understand their impact on their overall health,” said Nair. “As a result, the understanding and relevance of the clean label have become more nuanced. “

In fact, the clean label trend has evolved to lay the foundation for the future of the food industry. In the future, consumers expect products to not only provide nutritional value, but include acceptable and functional ingredients, taste great, and be good for the planet.

Although there is no standard definition of the label unique to the United States, it has come to symbolize the consumer movement towards food and beverage products that embody quality and traceability. According to Kerry’s 2019 Future of Food White Paper study, 59% of consumers perceive foods and beverages labeled as ‘clean’ to be healthier, and 75% of consumers are willing to switch from their diet. usual brand to another which provides a more detailed product. information beyond what appears on the physical label.

Three-quarters of consumers say they read the product label before purchasing, and the top claims they look for include all natural or 100% natural; made with real ingredients; No added sugar; biological; and without additives or preservatives.

“For consumers, a clean label means ‘healthy eating’ by focusing on products with simple and easily recognizable ingredients based on the ‘less is more’ principle, said Kim Després Thibodeau, Sales Marketing Director retail for Bridor, a Canadian company from Boucherville.

It is important to note that consumers are not only looking for products with more natural ingredients, but also products with ingredients they recognize, said Lieselot Delabie, laboratory and bakery manager at Vandemoortele, based in Belgium in Ghent. .

“You often see hydrogenated oils and fats on ingredient labels,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with it, but if it’s not something you use in your own kitchen, you don’t know what it is, then consumers trust it less.”

The blurred line between clean label and sustainability

When Hatfield, Pa.-Based Clemens Food Group first entered the clean label space in 2017, the company saw a demand for transparency in the ingredients that make up their pork products and how the company’s products were made.

Over the past year, transparency has become even more important to consumers due to COVID-19, and consumers also expect products under the “clean label” designation to be purchased responsibly as well.

“We find that in addition to all of these other attributes (all-natural, minimally processed, etc.), consumers also want to know that the meat they eat comes from a company that increases the responsibility of their animals,” said said Michele Williams, senior director of retail marketing for Clemens Food Group.

According to Kerry’s Future of Food report, sustainability is strongly associated with a clean label and healthy food. Sustainability casts a “lens halo” with products designed for people and the planet, and offers brands and retailers an opportunity to promote products with a positive, goal-oriented message.

In fact, 41% of consumers prefer to buy from brands they see as ethical, and 73% of consumers believe companies with corporate responsibility initiatives are making a difference for the better.

Vandemooretele sees the clean label as being so closely linked to sustainability that the focus on expanding clean label products is part of the company’s new sustainability strategy which was launched earlier this year.

“The new strategy is based on three objectives”, declared Aurélie Comhaire, responsible for sustainable development of the Vandemoortele group. “The first is a balanced diet, the second protects nature and the third improves life. In the first objective of a balanced diet, the clean label is one of our commitments. It was important to understand what sustainability is for consumers. Sometimes that means something on the packaging, sometimes it means something about health or the carbon footprint. We received information and the clean label was a topic that popped up. “

Build customer loyalty with the clean label

By showcasing products with clean labels, retailers can create a value-based offering that customers are willing to pay more for, said Després Thibodeau of Bridor.

“Due to the potential to generate value, realize price premiums and increase customer loyalty, we have seen a strong growth in demand for private label products in retail,” said she declared. “It is important to highlight the characteristics relevant to consumers and to create a clear optical differentiation of ‘dedicated storage space’ for this category. “

Després Thibodeau recommends that retailers make all relevant label claims as visible as possible in-store and online, as these claims are essential selling points and differentiation that shoppers seek.

By making private label products easily accessible, retailers can meet their customers wherever they are, noted Williams of Clemens Food Group. As consumers increasingly seek out clean label products across the perimeter, wearing these products helps build credibility and loyalty.

“You will have a consumer who will come back to you frequently,” said Williams. “It might even increase the size of the basket, as customers are looking for clean labels throughout the store. They know your store is a one stop shop and they don’t have to go to one store for specialty meats and another for a different specialty product. They can get what they need from one store.


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