This obviously provides an incredible opportunity for brands to innovate, however, it can be challenging to develop the next trending clean label product in the increasingly saturated market.
“But, by incorporating a range of specific clean label interests that appeal to a wider consumer base – like transparency and functionality – manufacturers can continue to surpass expectations,” said Laurie Colin, senior technical business development manager for Blue Diamond’s Global Ingredients Division.
Seeing through the label
The evolution of clean label has resulted in an increased demand for ingredient transparency.
According to a 2022 Food Institute report, 72% of consumers noted a growing preference for transparent brands.
“Shoppers no longer want to know the ingredients on a surface level, they want to gain a deeper understanding of where the ingredients come from and how they ended up in the final product.”
That said, ADM’s 2023 Colour and Flavour Trend Report found 74% say they like food and drink products with unusual or exotic flavours, which often requires the incorporation of ingredients that many may not be familiar with, such as yuzu or ube.
“While it’s a natural ingredient, some consumers might not trust it if they don’t recognise it,” said Colin.
“Brands can reassure their clean label shoppers by providing detailed transparency around the ingredients used. This allows brands to be more creative with their innovations while still adhering to the overwhelming favour for clean label formulations.”
Cleaning up labels
“With a newfound scepticism of back-of-pack labels and product benefit claims, we expect to see an increase in the use of natural, organic food and beverage ingredients with scientifically proven benefits,” added Colin.
In fact, according to Mintel data, 73% of consumers in 2022 believes natural claims should be more regulated, while 23% don’t trust current packaging claims. Whether it be for functional benefits, like a brain-boosting beverage, or a product free from artificial additives, consumers will increasingly look for ingredients with data-backed benefits to trust the claims.
To foster brand loyalty, Colin said formulators will increasingly lean on clean label ingredients – like nuts, fruits and vegetables – which sport trustworthy, globally recognised health benefits. Brands can accomplish this by making simple switches:
- Natural antioxidants like tocopherols (vitamin E) instead of artificial preservatives
- Pure almond protein powder instead of complicated protein blends
- Natural citric acid for a source of vitamin C instead of artificial supplements
Addressing the challenge with almonds
“Almond flour and almond protein powder are ideal clean label ingredients as they are manufactured by mechanical separation. This means no additives are used in the process, resulting in a cleaner final product,” explained Colin.
“Both almond-based ingredients allow for a successful replacement of wheat flour in a multitude of bakery and snack applications due to the clean taste, smooth mouthfeel and similar texture.”
Complimentary ingredients such as clean label starches and hydrocolloids can also be added to enhance the almond ingredients without needing artificial additives. Additionally, almond protein contributes to a more cohesive cell structure, helping retain more moisture after baking and balancing the sweetness to provide a cleaner flavour profile.
Added Colin, “Almond ingredients can also help formulators achieve nutritional targets and claims when used in gluten-free baked goods.
“Compared to other clean label, gluten-free flours, almond flour and almond protein powder contain higher amounts of protein, fibre, healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals.
“With these natural benefits, brands can target and authentically promote protein, fiber, vitamin, and mineral claims with a minimal need for any additives – a quality clean label shoppers look for.”