The food industry used to talk about clean label as a ‘trend’, as if it were a fleeting phenomenon—something consumers might change their minds about.
All the evidence, however, points to a permanent shift. Half of all shopping trips now include the purchase of a clean label product.[i] Seven in ten (69 percent) consumers worldwide believe foods without artificial ingredients are always healthier. Over half (52 percent) believe products with fewer ingredients are healthier.[ii] Shoppers also expect manufacturers to be able tell a story about what is in their food—not just what isn’t. More than seven in ten say they feel positively about brands that share ‘why behind the buy’ information about their products.[iii]
In other words, clean label is no longer a trend but the norm. And there are big rewards for companies that respond to demand for it. Two thirds of consumers are willing to pay more for products that do not contain undesirable ingredients[iv] and nearly three quarters are happy to pay a higher retail price for products made from ingredients they recognize and trust. [v] Four in ten say they would switch from their current brand to one that offers more transparency.[vi]
Yet consumers are also telling us that cleaner labels must not come at the expense of flavour: taste is still a top purchase driver.[vii] In savoury products, one of the best ways to provide deliciousness without high sodium content is by creating umami—a synergy of elements known as the fifth taste. This well-established Japanese approach has reached new levels of awareness in the West: the challenge now is to deliver umami without resorting to MSG or other artificial taste enhancers. We’re currently seeing a lot of inventive ways to achieve this Holy Grail, but you don’t have to look much further than the humble tomato for a simple, familiar source of umami that helps you clean up your label.
At Lycored we use our own unique specially bred non-GMO tomatoes. They are four times higher in lycopene than standard tomatoes and rich in naturally occurring taste compounds which provide umami character. The high levels of free-occurring glutamate they contain is one of the secrets of SANTE—our versatile, natural taste enhancer. Thanks to its ability to enhance the taste of recipes, both salty and sweet, it allows a reduction in sodium from salt—by nearly 65 percent in some applications. It is also a great example of a clean label solution. Manufacturers can declare it as ‘tomato concentrate’ or ‘natural flavour’, depending on local regulations.
The industry tends to think about the pressure to clean up labels as challenge, but it is also an opportunity. When you replace complicated, artificial ingredients with natural alternatives that improve taste as well as consumer appeal, you’re adding something rather than taking something away.
[i] Nielsen, “It’s clear: Transparency is winning in the U.S. Retail Market’, 21 August 2017
[ii] Nielsen ‘What’s in our food and on our mind: Ingredient and dining-out trends around the world’, August 2016
[iii] Nielsen, “It’s clear: Transparency is winning in the U.S. Retail Market’, 21 August 2017
[iv] Nielsen ‘What’s in our food and on our mind: Ingredient and dining-out trends around the world’ August 2016
[v] Ingredient Communications ‘Name Your Price: nearly three quarters of consumers will pay extra for ingredients they recognise’ Dec 17, 2016
[vi] Label Insight, ‘Driving long-term trust and loyalty through transparency’ 2016
[vii] International Food Information Council ‘2017 Food and Health Survey’, August 2017