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Clean Food: The Next Trend in The Food Industry?
Post Time:2019-03-12Author:Food2China


Clean diets have always been a hot concept in the field of fitness. With consumers' increasing awareness of healthy diets, clean food has gradually entered public view and changed our way of life. An increasing number of international enterprises are keen to promote clean food. Foods with clean labels are grabbing market share and gaining momentum. What kind of food can be called "clean food"? How does clean food become a black horse in the global food industry?


Speaking of clean food, most of us associate it with labels like "natural ingredients", "no preservatives" and "no artificial additives". But we haven’t formed a complete view of what exactly clean food is. In fact, Clean Eating magazine had already given a more comprehensive definition of clean diets: “A clean diet is eating the way nature intended. It’s about eating real food for a healthy, happy life”. The magazine defines clean food as a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, filtered water, sustainable meat and wild seafood, while some refined foods such as bread, flour, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and trans fatty acids are considered as junk food. Data from Innova Market Insights indicates that two-thirds of grocery store consumers are looking for foods with fewer and simpler ingredients. So in many ways, Clean Eating magazine’s definition of a clean diet finds an echo in today’s popular eating habit, which is one of the reasons why clean food is becoming increasingly popular.

At the IFT 2018, the word "clean" once again became a focus. Food manufacturers showcased innovative products such as spices, sauces and beverages. All these products had a common feature - "natural". In the process of product innovation, Synergy Flavors is inspired by gardens in Chicago and its suburbs, such as the Morton Botanical Garden and the Chicago Botanical Garden. The major products of the company are natural spices, plant ingredients and flavor enhancers. The flavors are diverse and natural, including fruit and vegetable, flower, herb, and even maple and American oak. The chocolate and vanilla waffles that Synergy Flavors displayed at the exhibition also attracted much attention. Edouard Janssen, General Manager of Solvay, saythat there is no sign of slowdown in the "naturaand "clean” trend. More and more manufacturerare looking for solutions which could preservnatural tastes and textures that consumers like.

In fact, many leading food manufacturers have already focused their attention on clean food. Nestle no longer adds ingredients like fructose syrup which do not meet the requirements of clean labels in products of six brands: Edys, Hagen-Dazs, Outshine, Skinny Cow, Nestl Ice Cream and Nestl Drumstick. Danone Group solemnly promises consumers that it will increase product transparency and use more natural ingredients. Such measures will mainly apply to the company's three flagship brands Dannon, Oikos and Danimals. Mars (Mars), one of the world's largest food producers, has announced that no artificial colors will be used in any of its food products for human consumption.


Although the origin of clean labels is not clear, the industry has so far formed a mature concept of clean labels. Firstly, the product ingredients must be natural and organic, without artificial additives and preservatives. Secondly, the simpler the product ingredients are, the better. Thirdly, the product does not contain any chemical component that is difficult for people to understand. Fourthly, the simpler and the shorter the manufacturing process is, the better.

In recent years, clean labels have been growing steadily worldwide, and the loss of consumer trust caused by food safety scandals is an important reason behind this trend. According to a report released by Morder Intelligence, the global market value of clean food is expected to reach 47.5 billion US dollars by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 6.8%. A KERRY survey shows that 94% of Japanese consumers say they will check the labels of products while shopping, and 82% of American consumers think that clean labels were important.

Additionally, the report also points out that 86% of Millennials and 89% of thoes who have infants believe that clean labels can influence their purchasing decisions. Millennials pay more attention to the ingredients in foods and beverages and the transparency, authenticity and sustainability of the processing process, so they rely on clean labels in food purchase. Parents who have infants are more concerned about food safety. In countries like China and Vietnam, there is huge demand for infant formula with clean labels. In Europe, 74% of those between 18 and 45 years old and 75% of those over 46 years old say clean labels are important to them. Low salt, sugar and fat appeal more to older consumers, while the environmentally sustainable nature of clean labels are more likely to resonate with young people.

Clean labels are also sought after by Chinese consumers. According to a Mintel survey, 81% of Chinese consumers believe that "no additives" or "no artificial ingredients" are "very or extremely important"; 65% of Chinese consumers are "very or extremely likely" to switch to brands that contain "no artificial ingredients"; 86% of Chinese consumers say they want to see simpler and more understandable ingredient lists. Mintel analysts say that generally speaking, clean labels enjoy a high degree of acceptance among consumers, as they believe that clean food is safer. The high consumer demand also leads to food enterprises' keen pursuit of "no additive" in product development, especially in the categories of condiments, dairy products and fermented pasta.

Take soy sauce as an example. After China entered the "Twelfth Five-Year Plan" period, additive-free soy sauces have sprung up in the market. Leading soy sauce brands like Haitian, Xinhe and Meiweixian have all launched additive-free soy sauce products, which are available in all major supermarkets and highly popular among consumers although they are more expensive than ordinary soy sauces.

With the emergence of more and more clean foods, consumers' requirements are also increasing, not only in the aspect of ingredients, but also packaging. In the EU and North American markets, an increasing number of consumers want products to be clean both inside and outside. Some products are overpackaged, overweight and over-sized, which not only wastes a lot of resources but also causes pollution to the environment. Those products cannot be called clean food even if their ingredients are natural. In fact, packaging is a means to convey the concept of freshness, health and authenticity to consumers. So it is necessary for manufacturers to make packaging with natural, sustainable and chemical-free materials. Additionally, Mintel suggests in a recent report that manufacturers should increase the functionality of food packaging to reduce waste, which means that keeping food fresh and safe is the priority in innovation of food packaging. Nowadays, many food manufacturers are active in this field. They have made in-depth research on areas including antisepsis, food spoilage and packaging integrity.


This article is from Food2China.

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