Food Business News - August 22, 2017 - 42
SPECIAL REPORT: CLEAN LABEL
The complexity of clean label
The consumer's perception of what is 'clean' varies by category
he term clean label has become a
pillar in food industry vernacular,
but it's not necessarily a term that
is part of the consumer's vocabulary. For
most shoppers, the clean label product
development movement is more of a
force that comes to life by the language
on product packages and marketing
materials. It encompasses more than a
product's ingredient label and continues
to evolve as consumers become more
engaged in the farm-to-fork process.
"The consumer demand for clean
food has been gaining momentum for
some time," said Laurie Demeritt, chief
executive officer of The Hartman Group,
Bellevue, Wash. "We've now reached the
point where clean label is not just today's
reality; it is the path that packaged food
and beverage companies must take if
brands are to remain relevant with consumers. It is but one major outcropping
of the broader food cultural trend toward
all things less processed and real."
Renetta Cooper, business development director, Kerry, Beloit, Wis., agreed.
"Clean label has been a purchase driver for more than five years," she said. "Yet,
confusion still abounds among consumers
as well as manufacturers and brands looking to meet consumers' needs.
"Recognizing this void, we conducted
an extensive consumer survey to pinpoint
specific drivers as they relate to clean
label and understand the commercial
Food Business News
opportunities related to those drivers."
The company surveyed 2,600 adults
across the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany. The study
was about clean label and results showed
that "all-natural," "non-G.M.O." and "no
additives or preservatives" are the most
common product attributes consumers
associate with clean label.
In the United States, respondents
connected product attributes ranging
from "farm grown" to "sustainably
produced" and "minimally processed" to
"made with real ingredients" to the concept of clean label. This suggests clean
label is a multidimensional opportunity
for food manufacturers and brands.
"As clean label is multidimensional
in the minds of consumers, it is critical
for manufacturers to learn the attributes
their target consumers expect from a
clean label to ensure they focus on the
right ingredients," Ms. Cooper said.
This varies by food category. A clean
label heat-and-eat entree may have very
different attributes than a grain-based
snack or yogurt.
The Hartman Group adds to that
evolving multidimensional definition of
clean label. The research firm includes
"premium marketplace" in its characterization, which is shorthand for consumer
demand for higher-quality foods and
beverages. The premium foods typically
come with a higher price tag, such as
what consumers encounter with many
organic and specialty foods.
It is the "if it costs more, it must be
better" phenomenon. And interestingly,
Kerry's research showed that nearly 9 in 10
consumers who read labels are willing to
pay more for food perceived as clean. This
suggests the economics of sourcing premium ingredients should not be a deterrent
in clean label product development.
Here and now
"The clean label moniker is emerging
as a new standard for natural food products found in grocery stores," said Megan
Klein, president of Here, Carol Stream, Ill.,
a manufacturer of locally sourced juices,
dips and salad dressings. "It is a consumer-driven movement, demanding a return
to 'real food' and transparency through
authenticity. These are foods containing
natural, familiar, simple ingredients that
are easy to recognize, understand and
pronounce, with no artificial ingredients
or synthetic chemicals."
All of Here's products are produced in
small batches 25 miles outside of Chicago,
its major market. The products contain
produce grown by local farmers. It is the
sourcing of local ingredients that contributes to Here's clean label positioning.
"We make it here and distribute it
only in the Midwest," Ms. Klein said. "Every
Here product tells an honest story about its
August 22, 2017