Today’s consumers are the most informed and health conscious of any previous generation. This presents a new challenge to brands marketing food products: making quality products, with quality natural ingredients that consumers can understand. Having a clean label means that the ingredients are naturally derived, and recognizable to most buyers.  Clean labels are beyond a phase or a trend, clean labels and natural ingredients are the new industry standard that consumers have come to expect.

Even the largest food brands are removing artificial ingredients, preservatives and chemicals from their products, making commitments to produce healthier, more natural foods. This is in direct response to consumers’ wants. More than 75% of consumers in the US report reading ingredients list before deciding to purchase and a staggering 91% say that recognizable ingredients are an important aspect in that decision. 68% want to understand every ingredient in a list and a single unrecognizable ingredient will affect their purchase decision.

Beyond recognizable ingredients, food products may be more marketable with additional natural claims on ingredients such as organic, fresh, antibiotic-free, minimally processed, and non-GMO. These terms are being used more often in food product marketing and are proving to be more effective in engaging consumers than less specific claims such as “all-natural.” Of consumers surveyed, 72% associated the words fresh, organic, and GMO-free with food being more nutritious.  When feasible, food production professionals should aim to use as many ingredients that fall under these categories as possible and be specific, as more and more consumers become interested in making more health-conscious decisions.

Clean labels build trust. Consumers want to know that they can trust the manufacturers of the food they are eating, and the best way to convey that trust is to be transparent in ingredients. Another survey found that 86% of consumers find short ingredient lists to be more trustworthy and appealing for purchase. Having clearly labeled, easy-to-understand and minimal amounts of ingredients helps communicate to consumers that this is a brand that has their best interests in mind.

The natural foods movement is not going anywhere. Surveys show an increase in consumer desire for straightforward, natural ingredients year over year with no sign of letting up.  For a brand to be successful in marketing food products in 2018, it needs to have clean labels.