CHICAGO — The most frequently featured claim on new foods and beverages in 2008 was use of the term "natural," according to Mintel International’s Global New Products Database.

"Natural" could include all-natural, no additives/preservatives, organic and whole grain. Such claims were on nearly one in four food and beverages launched globally in 2008, representing a 9% increase from 2007.

"Although convenience and the environment are popular talking points today, these benefits did not receive anywhere near the same level of attention as ‘natural’ claims did," said Lynn Dornblaser, new product expert with Mintel. "With economic struggles driving people toward a simpler way of life, we expect that food and drink manufacturers will continue to prize natural, wholesome benefits well into 2009."

The United States saw an even greater percentage of "natural" launches with 33% of new launches making the claim, representing a 16% increase from 2007. In comparison, only 18% of new products claimed "convenience" on the package and only 7% boasted of "ethical and environmental benefits."

In addition, "plus" claims, which include added vitamins and calcium, fell 20% globally in 2008, and "minus" claims, including low-fat, reduced-sugar and low-calorie, have started to fall in popularity around the world.

"In the past, low-fat and low-calorie were the hallmarks of good nutrition and dieting, but today that lifestyle seems passé," Ms. Dornblaser said. "On top of this, fortified products are falling out of favor. Food and drink manufacturers today realize that natural and pure have become healthy eating ideals as people look for holistic, genuine nutrition they can trust."