Consumers show growing interest in clean-label ingredients – article

Natural, organic and sustainable ingredients are key to formulating (and reformulating) products to harness the clean-label trend.

June 18, 2024

6 Min Read
Consumers show growing interest in clean-label ingredients

Buzz around the dangers of processed foods is spiking like blood pressure after a fast food meal. The unhealthy and addictive nature of some of these foods has even prompted scientists to propose a new mental health condition based on their frequent consumption, according to recent reporting in the Wall Street Journal.[1] Such attention amplifies consumer concerns about ingredients,[2] and it is prompting growing demand for clean-label products. All this presents exciting opportunities for savvy brands and product developers to formulate — or reformulate — with a better-for-you slate of ingredients to differentiate products in a competitive market.

While there is no official definition for “clean label,” the top meanings global consumers associate with the phrase are organic, the absence of additives and genetically modified ingredients and the use of natural ingredients and environmentally friendly positioning, according to research from Innova Market Insights. Their analysts find that more than 2 in 3 consumers globally say they are somewhat influenced by clean-label terminology.

And that translates to purchasing priorities. Eighty-one percent of shoppers say it’s important to purchase clean-label food products, according to the 2024 Clean Label Insights Study from Acosta Group.[3]

The enduring, pandemic-induced spotlight on health has also helped drive this trend.  In 2023, nearly 70% of consumers said, “I am very conscious of ingredients that may be harmful to my health,” according to the Innova Health and Nutrition Survey 2023. These beliefs are already fueling billions in sales, with the market for natural and organic products expected to exceed $300 billion in 2024 — triple 2007 sales,  according to data from Nutrition Business Journal.[4] What’s more, Innova Market Insights has named clean label a top trend for 2024, especially in new product development, noting that 1 in 3 new products now carry some type of clean-label claim.[5]

 

Certainly, promoting recognized ingredients is a path to success:  Foods and staples that already have a positive image can use further ingredients from nature to enhance their nutritional profile, Innova analysts suggested.

Partners in clean innovation

Finding success in this space, however, does require working with an ingredient supplier partner who sources sustainably and has the experience and creativity to ensure there is no compromise in taste, texture or shelf life.

Ciranda fits the bill. For more than 30 years, it has supplied the nation’s top organic and natural brands with certified organic, non-GMO and fair trade ingredients. Ciranda was founded on the belief that organic was better years before the launch of the USDA National Organic Program.

Ciranda’s products are backed with an in-house Quality Assurance team, R&D technical support, and deep relationships with global supply partners. This is helpful in today’s complex market where consumers and brands want more transparency around where their ingredients are coming from.

 

The good news is that there are now natural options from rice and tapioca that can mimic this functionality. For example, Ciranda’s organic rice maltodextrin is produced from organic and non-GMO rice starch, treated with organic enzymes that are similar to the ones your body produces to digest carbohydrates. Rice Maltodextrin can provide bulking, carrier and texturizing properties and is commonly used in dry spice mixes, seasonings and marinades, as well as instant products like oatmeal and coffee creamers. With excellent thickening and fat mimicking, this ingredient can create dairy and dairy alternative products with a creamy, luxurious mouthfeel.  

Ciranda’s organic tapioca maltodextrin is a powdered ingredient produced from organic tapioca starch that also can be useful in clean-label formulations. The organic tapioca maltodextrin naturally absorbs oil and can transform it into a powder that is used for powdered flavors and colors. It is often used in spray drying ingredients like sunflower oil and coconut oil to create powdered oils in applications like instant pudding and coffee creamers. This ingredient is a great fat substitute useful in reduced-fat dairy and non-dairy applications to meet consumer expectations for mouthfeel without added fat. It also has excellent binding properties to create texture in gummy and jelly candies and can replace more expensive hydrocolloids and gums.

Morphing away from modified

Clean-seeking consumers often shy away from “chemically modified” anything. Fortunately, there are natural alternatives for the widely used, chemically modified starches that have traditionally been used to thicken, stabilize, emulsify and generally improve food’s consistency. Produced without the use of chemicals, Ciranda’s organic tapioca native and pregelatinized starches offer excellent water absorption properties, providing thickening, binding, stability and improved texture when used in a wide range of products.

With neutral flavor and color, these extremely versatile ingredients are organic, non-GMO, kosher and gluten free. In breads, cookies, cereals and crackers, they improve structure, boost crispiness, replace gluten, act as anti-staling agents and control water activity. In dressings, sauces and condiments, they bind, thicken, replace fat and gum, and control syneresis. They improve freeze/thaw stability in frozen meals and prevent caking in shredded cheese.

Potato starch, another alternative to chemically modified starches, is a food starch rock star — uniquely high-performing among food starches as a thickening, gelling and anti-caking agent. Its powers come from the size of its granules. Bigger granules mean better water-binding capacity. In meat and meat alternatives, potato starch captures water released by proteins during cooking for a moister product. With the lowest swelling temperature and the highest peak viscosity of any native starch, potato starch swells in baked goods as the dough begins to rise, boosting volume. It keeps working after cooling, forming an invisible barrier that keeps breads, cookies and biscuits crisp and fresh longer. Ciranda produces its organic potato starch in the Baltic Sea region of Europe, where weather conditions are perfect for growing potatoes with high-starch content.  

 

Certain fats can also be an issue for clean-label shoppers. Even back when “clean” was used mainly to talk about dishes and laundry, many consumers worked to avoid cholesterol-raising saturated fats. The soy, canola, sunflower and peanut oil manufacturers found to replace those fats in formulations, however, present another problem. Hexane is the primary solvent used to extract oil from soybeans, canola, sunflower and peanuts. As shoppers looking for clean labels learn more about solvents, they’re discovering that they’re not too keen on consuming hexane. Ciranda’s organic coconut oil products, which are not processed with hexane or any other chemicals, offer formulators the same versatility as the hexane-processed plant oils for use in products from bars and cereals to confectionery and dairy.

Ciranda is employee-owned and committed to sustainability and economic fairness, a mission that goes hand-in-hand with helping manufacturers meet consumer demand for clean labeled products. Formulating, or reformulating, with Ciranda ingredients can grow sales — and add a positive halo around your brand.

References:

[1] Pedersen A. The New Science on What Ultra processed Food Does to Your Brain. March 11, 2024. https://www.wsj.com/health/wellness/ultra-processed-food-brain-health-7a3f9827

[2] Garwood G. The Food Institute. Clean Label Takes Center Stage as Ultra-Processed Stigma Grows. April 2. 2024. https://foodinstitute.com/focus/clean-label-takes-center-stage-as-ultra-processed-stigma-grows/

[3] Accosta Group. Clean Label Products Driving Retail Sales as they Gain Preference Among Consumers. March 5, 2024. https://www.acosta.group/clean-label-products-driving-retail-sales-as-they-gain-preference-among-consumers/

[4] Reiss D. 6 Things to know about the natural and organic market in 2024. New Hope Network. https://www.newhope.com/market-data-and-analysis/6-things-know-natural-and-organic-market-2024

[5] Innova Market Insights. Clean Label Trends: Global Market Overview. https://www.innovamarketinsights.com/trends/clean-label-trends/

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