Natural Products Insider

NOV-DEC 2018

INSIDER is the leading information source for marketers, manufacturers and formulators of dietary supplements, healthy foods and cosmeceuticals. Since 1997, INSIDER has been serving the needs of the global nutrition industry.

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34 INSIDER November/December 2018 In recent years, consumers have driven the trend toward clean label products and increased brand transparency. However, the shift brought its share of growing pains. Jennifer Stephens, vice president of marketing at Fiberstar Inc., explained: "Since 'natural' or 'clean label' is not regulated and is open for interpretation, it gives some manufacturers some wiggle room when formulating products." She noted a company's consumer preference tests will dictate which ingredients are considered acceptable in the food products it sells, but "ironically, some of these ingredients that are deemed OK are processed with chemicals and/or solvents, which is not natural. However, they are accepted by the consumer" because of a product's clean ingredient declaration. Jennifer Tracy, senior marketing manager, Global Wholesome Springboard, at Ingredion Inc., also acknowledged the powerful role of the consumer. "Choosing a clean label ingredient supplier really has to start with the consumer. The consumer's perception of clean label infl uences the ingredients you use and claims you include on your label. Ingredients have to be recognized, accepted and expected in the packaged food or beverage, and these preferences vary by region," she stated, pointing to Ingredion's proprietary research. For example, Tracy said consumers in South America favor corn starch in a dressing, whereas consumers in North America and Asia Pacifi c prefer rice fl our. Nesha Zalesny, technical sales manager at Fiberstar Inc., suggested, "Something as innocuous as a chocolate chip cookie is a great example of how diffi cult clean label formulating can be. Flour in the United States is fortifi ed with vitamins with chemical-sounding names like niacinamide. This ingredient is an important form of nutrition, but because it sounds 'chemical,' it may be viewed as suspicious. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) also sounds like it is not a clean ingredient. Delve a little further, and one can see the palm oil, butter and/or margarine (partially hydrogenated vegetable oil) that is used to keep the baked good tasting fresh have their own challenges." She continued, "Sugar can also face sustainability and sourcing questions. This is a simple home-baked type of cookie. Products with longer shelf life will have even more issues, especially in packaging and ingredients." As brands try to discern and align with the ever-changing preferences of consumers, a variety of missteps can result. One of the most egregious offenders is deliberate misrepresentation. "Adulteration of foods for economic reasons remains an issue in the global food and beverage industry," noted Steve Taormina, business unit manager for NSF International's Consumer Values Verifi ed program. "Pure, real honey, for example, can be mixed with invert sugars to 'stretch' its value, but a fi nished-product label might only state 'honey' on the ingredient panel. This, to me, is greenwashing the product for consumers." These unscrupulous practices have escalated consumer skepticism of green product integrity. Steve French, managing partner at Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), shared data from the fi rm's annual consumer insights & trends report, "2018 State of Sustainability in America." It revealed more than 60 percent of consumers ages 18 and above agreed with the statement, "I feel many companies label products as 'green' just so that I will buy them." Millennials were the most skeptical, weighing in at 68 percent agreement. NMI noted brands should be specifi c in communicating their green efforts, which can help regain consumer trust. Founded in 1988, the billion-dollar "always organic" brand Organic Valley was clean label before clean label was a thing. Tripp Hughes, senior director of consumer strategy, said "watching 'clean label' get Food & Beverage: Clean Label vs. Clean Washing | When developing clean label products, brands must navigate shifting perceptions among consumers. | Many safe clean label ingredients are shunned by consumers due to chemical-sounding names. | Analyzing the supply chain and product life cycle can help companies substantiate a clean label. Cleaning Up Clean Label by Karen Butler INSIDER's Take More than 60 % of consumers ages 18 and above agreed with the statement, "I feel many companies label products as 'green' just so I will buy them." Source: NMI's "2018 State of Sustainability in America" 68% agreement. Millennials are most skeptical, weighing in at

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