& How Generations Interpret What Clean Label Really Means to Them

What started out as a trend has now become a real movement. Clearly, consumer’s desire for clean label products is here to stay and grow. Is this the dawn of a new era for food manufacturers?

As digitization has become an integral part of our daily lives, consumers increasingly turn to the Internet to better understand the ingredients included in the products that they want to purchase. Gone are the days when companies could convert consumers to buy the products they marketed. Today, food manufacturers need to respond to consumer’s demands.

Food manufacturers are, therefore, facing new product development challenges as they work to meet consumer’s expectations. Formulating a truly clean label product without compromising taste, authenticity and shelf life can be a daunting task.

Understand the needs and expectations of the different generations

To understand why your targeted consumer chooses clean label products, you need to understand the driving reasons that encourage them towards this change:

  • Millennials are the driving force of the exponential growth of clean label claims. They are obsessed with food and good, healthy food makes them happy.
  • Generation X is mostly concerned about pricing. They still rely mainly on word of mouth and they frequently buy products that are on sale, whether they are clean label, healthy, natural or not.
  • The majority of Boomers choose clean label, as well, but for a different reason than Millennials. They are primarily driven to make food choices based on health issues that are relevant to them as they age.

Top 8 ingredients you should avoid in your formulations

1)  Sugar is a common enemy

As a study conducted by C&R Research demonstrated, Baby boomers, Gen X and Millennials are all concerned by the amount of sugar in food products. For many manufacturers it remains a challenge to find natural or clean label alternatives, also considering that sugar often serves a purpose that goes beyond taste.

When evaluating alternatives to sugar or reducing sugar it is important to breakdown its functionality in the specific application.  Discover now what clean label alternatives to sugar are available to you.  

2)  Baby boomers stay away from artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup

In recent years artificial sweeteners have been associated with health issues such as cancer, weight gain and vascular problems.  As a result, many manufacturers are working to move away from the use of these products. In addition, we have all seen a great deal of negative press around the use of HFCS in various applications, such as carbonated beverages.  In response major brands have created line extensions highlighting different sweetener solutions so that consumers have the option to choose what they feel is best.

Tapioca Syrup, Rice Syrup and Sorghum Syrup are some of the cleaner label liquid sweetener alternatives that beverage, bar, sauce, snack & cereal manufacturers are turning to in their formulations.  Click here to learn more.

 3)  Sodium: The villain for all generations

Clean Label- alternative solutions to Sodium

It is widely acknowledged that too much sodium can lead to health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and kidney disease. Salt or NaCl is the highest contributor of sodium in many formations and although salt, like sugar, has many functionalities in a product there are some excellent ways to reduce sodium in a formulation without  compromising taste. 

Potassium Chloride is commonly used to reduce sodium, however, an even cleaner label alternative would be Salona™, manufactured by ICL Food Specialties which offers many taste, performance and labeling benefits.  Yeast extracts are also a great way to boost flavour while being lower in sodium. You can successfully reduce sodium by up to 40% in your applications using a variety of Savoury Systems® International’s yeast extract’ technologies.

Yeast extracts are the perfect flavouring agent for food manufacturers who want to keep their labels clean.  Learn more now!

4) Gen X and Baby boomers pay attention to trans-fat

With the high use of hydrogenated fats and oils in the ‘80s, 90’s and early 2000’s trans-fats were present in many of the prepared foods that consumers enjoyed.  However with the knowledge and understanding of the negative health aspects of trans-fat, the majority of consumers avoid trans-fat containing goods. Alternatives would include healthy oils such as olive oil and fractionated oils where functionality is key.

5)  Millennials are concerned with gluten-free

As consumers increasingly seek healthier options and modify their lifestyle choices accordingly, food producers need to keep pace. The gluten-free market, and products featuring ancient grains and superfoods, have all witnessed an incredible increase in sales and interest from consumers. The gluten-free market alone is set to reach US$4.89 Billion by 2021. Many gluten-free products currently on the market are made with refined starchy flours, like potato and white rice, that aren’t necessarily enriched or fortified. This leaves those on a gluten-free diet subject to nutrient deficiencies. That’s why Teff is so important. Not only is it an ancient whole grain, but Teff is also a nutrient-rich alternative to many gluten-free flours on the market today. By incorporating Teff, you can add valuable vitamins and minerals that gluten-free diets often lack. Do you want to know more about this tiny and mighty ancient grain? Click here. Discover our entire gluten free product list now!

For clean label claims, get rid of anything artificial.

6)  Artificial colours

Clean label colours

Artificial colours have been linked to hyperactivity in children and to cancer. Aware of these health warnings, consumers now want food colours that have natural origins. Food manufacturers are increasingly switching to alternative solutions such as the Roha’s Natracol™ product line, a range of colours derived from natural sources like beetroot, annatto, turmeric, carrots, paprika, and carotenes. Roha’s Futurals™ product line encompasses a broad range of 100 percent natural, brilliant and stable shades made from concentrates of vegetables, fruits, herbs, edible flowers and algaes. Almost the entire colour spectrum is represented in the Futurals™ line. GMO-free, these colours, dyes and pigments provide the natural, processed-free, ‘clean label’ foods that today’s health-conscious consumers demand.  Read now to learn more! Do you want to discover new alternative solutions? Click here.

7)  Artificial flavours

Consumers are also rejecting artificial flavours and are turning more and more to natural flavours. However, this leaves manufacturers with another issue: the price of their ingredients. Natural solutions tend to be much more expensive and their price fluctuates. For example, the vanilla market reached new highs this year, after Madagascar was badly hit by a cyclone. As a result of the damage, the price of vanilla pods rose to an all-time high of above $600/kg.  Faced with this kind of situation, many food formulators are seeking alternative sources. Since the key element of the vanilla flavour is vanillin, it comes as no surprise that this ingredient has become the most popular choice. Vanillin, the primary component of vanilla bean extract, is a cost-effective substitute to vanilla. Found naturally in vanilla extract at 1-2%, it is available through a synthetic or natural process. The natural Vanifolia™ line of products, from Solvay Aroma Performance, addresses the growing demand for flavours gained from natural sources and it is GMO-free and fully compliant with both U.S. and European natural flavour regulations. Read more.

8)  Artificial preservatives

Artificial preservatives are often considered to be the most unnatural ingredients by a large number of consumers as they have been linked to increased cancer risk, reduced heart health and children’s hyperactivity. Alternatives to artificial preservatives can include a myriad of different options depending on the application, such as citric acid, ascorbic acid, acetic acid, cultured dextrose, cultured cane sugar and hop acids.  The efficacy of each solution depends on various conditions such as pH, processing, storage and packaging.

Clean Label

A Challenge for Manufacturers

In addition to this long list of products to avoid, manufacturers should also consider that consumers respond positively to the inclusion of ingredients that are beneficial to their health. Consumers are increasingly looking for food ingredients that can help reduce their risk of disease and that also promote good health.

Clean label is not just what your product doesn’t have but also what it integrates. Do you want to discover a perfect example of a clean label and nutritionally conscious formulation? Read here.

Contact us now or contact your CCC Ingredients Technical Sales Representative for further information on our complete range of clean label solutions!

Additional documents, samples and application information are available upon request.


About CCC Ingredients:

CCC Ingredients currently services a wide array of food manufacturers, of different scale, producing a variety of finished goods from coast to coast.  We actively source new and innovative ingredients to add to our portfolio, from across the globe, which will deliver value to our customers.  Those ingredients may be manufactured with greener technology, be clean label, and be more efficient, functional and cost effective; above all they must provide value. CCC Ingredients is committed to providing solutions to our customers that are both on trend and sustainable.


Resource: C&R Research