15 February 2021, 09:17 AM
  • Why is demand for 'clean label' products growing, and what does it mean for the food and drink sector? Will Cowling, marketing manager at FMCG Gurus, explains what consumers are looking for, and how to capitalise on the desire for natural products
How to target demand for natural food and drink

The appeal of clean label products and natural claims is not new within the food and drink industry. Over the past couple of years consumers have been evolving, pro-actively seeking products they associate with being healthier and better quality. Clean label and natural products hold a strong appeal to consumers in 2021 as they can be associated with being healthier whilst also being better for the environment, something in which consumers are looking to act upon. So, what does this mean for clean label products in the food and beverage industry, and what exactly are consumers looking for?

Much attention has been given to the growth of clean label products; however, this is very much an industry-led term. FMCG Gurus insights show that little under four in 10 consumers have heard of the phrase clean label, whilst 70% of global consumers state they believe that food and drink products are 100% natural. This suggests that the industry should not look to define the term clean label but to promote the principals driving the trend, for example, real and authentic ingredients, free from chemicals, and a product which offers nutritional value.

When given a definition of the term clean label, 73% of global consumers stated they found these products appealing. Two of the key reasons why consumers across the globe found these appealing were, firstly, they prefer products that are better quality, and secondly, they prefer products that are healthier for them. These are two need states that are of high importance to consumers and will continue to be in 2021 and beyond. This creates the opportunity to promote products as being “clean” on product packaging. However, when doing so, it is crucial that brands reference why they are making such claims.

Covid-19 has had a major impact on consumers over the past year. As consumers become more cautious about their overall health and wellbeing, they now more than ever, are looking for ways to lead a healthier lifestyle to combat vulnerability to the disease. FMCG Gurus research highlights that 83% of global consumers state they are actively planning to eat and drink more healthily as a result of the virus. Given that a high proportion of consumers associate natural products with being healthier, there will be an increased demand for such products over the next twelve months, as consumers turn to products that they know and trust and associate with offering a nutritional boost, as well as other benefits.

This demand is highlighted as 56% of global consumers state that they are more attentive to natural ingredient claims, showing that consumers are adopting a back-to-basics approach to their diets. This is seen as 61% state they have increased their intake of fruit and 45% have increased their intake of vegetables. This shows consumers are turning to everyday products that they know and trust, which are associate with being real and authentic and chemical-free.

However, when targeting consumers who are seeking out natural claims in their food and drink products, it is important that brands and retailers are transparent. Across the globe, two thirds of consumers say that they want nutritional information to be as simplified as possible. Therefore, it is not just enough to focus on natural formulation. In addition, brands and retailers need to ensure that nutritional information is also as simple and transparent as possible to help build trust amongst their consumers.

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