Clean Label in Food & Beverage

Ethical Labeling in Food and Beverage

The concept of healthy living has evolved over the years to include a holistic approach to self-care. This promotes the notion of eating healthy and organic foods, taking supplements, using cleaner personal care products, exercising, and managing stress.

In their quest for greener and cleaner living, an increasing number of consumers opt for food and beverage products that they perceive to be “clean” or “natural.” Products with claims such as gluten-free, non-GMO, no artificial colors or preservatives, organic, and grass-fed are gaining more space at retailers’ shelves. Kline’s findings from the already-conducted Clean Label in Food and Beverages consumer survey indicate that slightly more than half of the respondents feel that purchasing natural/clean-labeled food products is essential or very important to them. They also cite that natural/clean foods have a positive effect on their health.

While clean labels can be found on a variety of products, the presence of these labels varies by category. The categories that most commonly feature clean or natural claims include meat and poultry, meat replacement, dairy, and baby food products. Categories with little to no clean label presence include ready-to-eat meals, packaged bread and other baked goods, and hot and cold beverages. The most popular claim across the categories is organic, made with organic, non-GMO ingredients and no artificial additives.

Retailers are increasingly taking initiatives to promote cleaner and greener living, but their standards and requirements for clean and natural products vary greatly depending on the target market of the grocer and its positioning. Specialty stores, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, have stricter requirements for clean products and their labels. Some grocers, such as Kroger and Wegmans, do not require products or suppliers to follow rigorous guidelines due to the large number of conventional product offerings sold through stores, while others, such as Target, do not offer a natural label or set natural product standards. Some retailers, such as Target and Whole Foods, create specialty diet lists to ease the consumer shopping experience by adhering to specific standards.

Kline’s upcoming Clean Label in Food & Beverages: Perception vs. Reality study takes a deep dive into the market for clean label products, answering various questions around key trends and developments in the clean food and beverage product category. The report explores the key trends and developments in the clean food and beverage products, demystifies the consumer perception of clean products, and identifies what labeling is most appealing to consumers in the different product categories. Moreover, the study analyzes the current offerings in terms of ingredients and uses Kline’s proprietary rating scale to rate the products according to their degree of naturalness or cleanness.

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