For the past few years, clean labels have been a huge trend in our industry. These labels focus on nutritional claims like natural, organic and gluten-free. With a rising consumer concern over the lack of regulation on the term natural, more transparent labels with clear and easy-to-read ingredients are making a rise. Packages that meet these criteria are now identified as “clear” labels. This means more clarity on ingredients and specific details on packaging.
Clear labels have a wider variety of available information with a focus on that products’ story, ingredients and production. The millennial buyer in particular is requesting more information than ever before about their food ingredients. They want to delve deeper than the typical clean label claims on the front of the packaging to know more about the sourcing of ingredients and the manufacturing process. They are socially engaged, seeking the story behind the product and they tend to have strict criteria for what they will and won’t accept in their food. When it comes to additives, for example, there is a growing conventional wisdom that “if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it.”
These consumer and retailer demands are providing food manufacturers with a challenge – how do you find alternative ways to make products healthier and also build more effective packaging communications? Communicating the message effectively on clear labels can be difficult because there’s an assumption that complicated chemical names automatically indicate artificial and unhealthy. As manufacturers know, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s just a chemical name for a basic ingredient or it’s an additive that’s necessary for shelf life and a lower product cost. The thing to remember is that consumers aren’t always looking for perfection, they’re looking for transparency. Explaining these reasons for certain ingredients will keep customers in the loop and build trust with the brand. With this knowledge, consumers can then decide for themselves what they’re comfortable purchasing.
It is clear that transparency in labeling is no longer confined to niche products and the natural sector. It is an industry-wide demand and the food industry is now up to the bat to adapt to these demands in their product development, manufacturing and packaging.