Articles

The Perils and Promise of Clean Labeling

October 25, 2017

We’ve all heard of “clean labels,” but what does “clean label” food really mean?

The simple answer is food that is healthy and perceived as natural. When consumers read a label, they want to understand what every ingredient is. This desire has been causing the current shift in the industry toward “clean labels.” Food manufacturers need to understand what motivates consumers so they can evolve their products to keep consumers happy.

Most food trends are quite clear: gluten-free food lacks gluten, Non-GMO Project Verified-labeled food doesn’t use genetically modified organisms as ingredients, organic food is grown without herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers, and so on. Unfortunately, the definition of “clean label” is unclear and varied—though at the core of clean labeling is the use of only natural, easily-recognized ingredients.

If food manufacturers are going to produce food that is considered clean label, it’s important to understand what it means. Only then can food manufacturers produce food that meets the needs of consumers. L.V. Lomas is here to help navigate this process and figure out the benefits and challenges involved.

To date, there is no definitive list clean label qualifications, but getting certified as Project Verified Non-GMO or Organic is one approach. Ingredient declarations with short lists of recognizable ingredients is another. When considering ingredient restrictions, food manufacturers need to keep in mind that eliminating certain ingredients could impact the quality, shelf life or texture. And if changing the ingredients or participating in certification programs results in a cost increase, are target consumers willing to pay more? Are “clean” and “value” synonymous terms?

Food Business News reports that in 2015 clean label food generated $165 billion globally, with $62 billion of that in North America alone. It is predicted that by 2020, clean label sales could reach $180 billion. This matches other food trends, including gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, fresh foods, and others that demonstrate increasing consumer awareness.

Understanding the fundamentals of clean labeling and its potential effects will help you decide if this approach aligns with your products and your consumers. Because there are no standardized rules for clean labeling, it is best to make sure you understand the demands of your consumer base.

L.V. Lomas supplies both natural and conventional ingredients. We’ve worked with food manufacturers for years to create new recipes and adjust existing ones. We are here to help you determine the best plan for your food products, clean label or otherwise!

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