KANSAS CITY — Food labeling continues to be more hotly debated in America, addressing such key issues as organic certification, “absence labeling” and changes in Nutrition Facts labels. In 2017, the spotlight will shine on what qualifies a food to be marketed as “healthy,” according to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation.
The Food and Drug Administration is currently working to redefine what qualifies as a “healthy” nutritional claim on package labels.
IFIC’s 2016 Food and Health Survey found that for more than one-third of consumers, a “healthy” food is defined in part by what it does not contain rather than what it does contain.
Kathy Sargent, market director, bakery, for Corbion, based in Lenexa, Kas., explains there is no set definition for clean label — “in consumers’ minds, it generally means an easy-to-understand ingredient statement that doesn’t elicit questions on what’s being included in the foods they purchase.”
While consumer perceptions vary, clean label involves the fewest number of ingredients and contains nothing harmful or overly processed, Ms. Sargent said. As an industry, clean label is viewed as a consumer-driven demand — millennials being a big driver of the demand as they look to purchase products that have authenticity, transparency and provide a clear understanding of food sourcing.
“With millennials being the largest consumer group, it’s important for food manufacturers to try to adhere to the clean label demand,” Ms. Sargent said. “At Corbion, we work side-by-side with customers to help them meet consumers’ clean label demand and provide them with solutions to help them simplify ingredient labels without losing quality, taste and the functional benefits that ingredients provide within their products.”
Dawn Food Products Inc. recently launched Bakers Truth, a new line of clean label ingredients that are free from artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners, and also contain no high-fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oil.
“Consumers continue to drive the ‘better-for-you’ food movement,” said Becky Loveland, vice-president of marketing and R.&D. North America at Dawn Foods. “These consumers want great-tasting products and want to feel good about what they are eating. Supporting that insight is recent research showing that 68% of global consumers want to recognize every ingredient on food labels. We developed Bakers Truth to provide the best of both worlds, enabling our customers to respond to this growing trend with additional sweet baked goods options for their consumers.”
Rich Products Corp., which recently launched its new Simply line of clean label desserts, defines clean label products as those void of ingredients that, through the voice of its customers and consumers, the company has deemed to be the “most sensitive.” As part of a larger health and authenticity strategy, Rich’s has established its own clean label guideline that is aligned with the growing market demand for products that are made with ingredients consumers know and trust.
The new Simply portfolio meets Rich’s definition of clean label. The items contain no high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors, or bleached flour. The products also use cage-free eggs, reflecting a major shift in U.S. food manufacturing.
“The introduction of the Simply line of desserts and dessert components is a logical step toward meeting the new consumer demand for simpler, more recognizable ingredients,” said Courtney Erickson, associate marketing manager-shopper marketing for Rich’s. “Research shows that more than 75% of shoppers have a more positive perception of brands that remove artificial flavors, and that three-quarters also tend to read product labels before they make their purchases. That’s potentially a lot of influence in the buying decision.”