Guest article

Powering the hunt for better-for-you clean label snacks

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Ancient grains and seeds are a wholesome clean addition to breads. Pic: GettyImages/Proformabooks
Ancient grains and seeds are a wholesome clean addition to breads. Pic: GettyImages/Proformabooks

Related tags Clean label Adm

Today’s consumers are proactively seeking foods that are good for them and good for the world. Clean label is more than a trend; it’s becoming a mainstream expectation in all areas of the food industry. John Powers, marketing director, Snacking & Baked Goods, ADM, examines what the clean label movement means for bakery and snacks.

People are progressively taking a more holistic approach to their wellbeing, which often translates to a search for snacks that are made with recognisable ingredients. This includes offerings that have short product labels with closer-to-nature ingredients that consumers are familiar with.

According to ADM Outside Voice research, 69% of consumers say simple, recognisable ingredients influence their purchasing decisions, while 66% say they are looking for labels with the shortest ingredients list.

Additionally, FMCG Gurus research indicates 69% of US consumers found clean label products appealing when described as ‘natural, contains only real ingredients, is synthetic-free and is also free from artificial ingredients’. There is also interest in reducing or excluding ingredients perceived to be unhealthy or unnecessary, such as excess sugar or salt.

Another important factor sometimes linked to the clean label movement is greater transparency around the ethical and environmental aspects of a product.

Shoppers tend to associate ethical and environmentally friendly brands with favourable attributes such as quality, trust and natural formulation. This is likely because these brands are seen to be focused on a wider variety of global issues such as responsible sourcing and human rights. Strong sustainability credentials for ingredients can improve clean label appeal among consumers.

In fact, another FMCG Gurus survey found almost a third of consumers indicate they frequently research fresh bakery products, with a focus on ethical and environmental issues. Moreover, Nielsen found 73% of global consumers agree they feel more positively about companies that are transparent about where and how products were made, raised or grown.

Wholesome and hearty

With such close attention being paid to labels, consumers are expecting more from their snacks. According to the Hartman Group, nourishment, including daily sustenance, also long-term wellness and health management are the top motivators today, so products that are winning are those with ingredients like added fibre, plant-based proteins and probiotics.

According to ADM research, 46% of consumers look for whole grain on an ingredient label when purchasing bread and bakery products, and 43% look for multigrain on labels.

Ancient grains and seeds are a wholesome addition to bread, crackers and other baked goods. Product developers can improve the appeal of emerging ingredients like chia, hemp seeds, sorghum, quinoa and millet by pairing them with more recognisable whole grains like wheat, rice and oats. Furthermore, plant-based protein is perceived as natural, nutritional and sustainable, helping give bakery products guilt-reduction  and nutritious positioning. Snacks high in protein are especially popular among adults and families with children.

ADM research found that fibre is the number one ingredient consumers want to add to their diets for reasons like weight management, heart health and gut health. All-natural items like bean chips and puffed pea snacks are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and interest in these snacks is poised to grow. Beans and peas can also contribute good quality protein to extruded snacks. Additionally, nuts and seeds present flexible formulation opportunities as well as nutritional value to a variety of applications.

To win with consumers, product developers must be able to bridge the gap between sustainable, healthy ingredients and satisfying flavour and textures.

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