With the rising consumer trend toward healthy, natural foods, much of the focus has understandably been on products that would traditionally be classified as “health foods”. After all, you would expect the most health-conscious consumers to be most interested in clean label foods, making these two categories a natural fit. But the truth is that clean label is no longer a niche. It is a movement that has gone mainstream, and the benefits of joining this trend are becoming too big for many companies to ignore.
What is Clean Label?
First off, it helps to be clear about what clean label really is. At the most basic level, clean label foods are composed of simple, natural ingredients that consumers recognize and are free of any synthetic preservatives or other unfamiliar additives. This means that a big part of clean label is consumer perception. Unpronounceable names on the ingredients list tend to drive people away, regardless of what the ingredient actually is. People want the food they buy to be made of natural ingredients, and they want to be able to identify it as such by scanning the packaging.
Consumers’ clean label demands have reached areas that even a decade ago many food industry experts may not have expected. The fact is that public perception of what constitutes healthy eating has shifted radically over the last ten or twenty years. It used to be that a food label could be packed with unrecognizable chemical ingredient names, but if it was marketed as low fat (especially if it was low in saturated fat) it would be perceived as a healthy choice. Now it is almost the exact opposite. Consumers may still prefer to limit their intake of certain things like fat and sugar, but unnatural ingredients are increasingly being seen as altogether unacceptable.
The Consumers Voice is Heard!
You only need to look at the changes made by some of the most recognizable names in the food industry over the last couple of years to see how far the domain of clean label marketing has extended beyond the health food aisle. McDonalds has reformulated some of their most popular items, like chicken nuggets and vanilla soft serve, to be clean label friendly. Perhaps even more stunningly, in 2015 Nestle removed all artificial flavors and colors from its chocolate candy products. Other food giants like Campbell’s and Kellogg have made similar changes.
These producers saw the writing on the wall in the form of consumer buying habits and demographic trends. Not only are clean label foods gaining market share, they are gaining a huge following with younger consumers, strongly suggesting that this trend will only grow for the foreseeable future. Clean label is increasingly being seen as a necessity in a competitive food marketplace.
Consumers Demand Healthy, Natural, Food
It’s quite obvious from these recent developments that consumers are demanding natural foods that are free from artificial preservatives and other questionable additives, regardless of category. In a recent survey carried out by Ingredion, a food ingredient supplier, over half of the respondents said they would switch their current dessert brand for one that was marketed as “natural”. Just as importantly, however, they said they would only make the switch if the taste and texture of the product wasn’t compromised.
HPP the Perfect Fit
This profile of consumer preferences is what makes HPP such a natural fit for the current and emerging food marketplace. Eliminating the necessity for chemical preservatives and preserving the taste, texture, and nutritional properties of the product are some of the clearest benefits to using HPP, and they match up precisely with what consumers are asking for.