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Study finds clean labels important to most consumers

A recent study commissioned by Ingredient Communications shows consumers will base purchasing decisions on clean, simple ingredient lists.

Even before the world first heard of COVID-19 and a global pandemic had consumers rethinking their own health and wellness like never before, the trend toward clean eating was well underway. From bakery items like breads and pastries to once-avoided ingredients like fats and oils, the clean label trend can be seen across the food and beverage industry, and appears here to stay—especially in light of a recent study commissioned by Ingredient Communications and conducted by SurveyGoo.

On September 22, Ingredient Communications announced the results of its survey of 1,000 adults in the UK and U.S., conducted during September 2020, regarding the ingredients in the foods and beverages they purchase. The results highlighted the importance of simple, short and recognizable ingredient lists—the hallmarks of the current clean label trend.

Of those surveyed, 50% said they are more likely to buy a product if they recognize all of the ingredients listed on the label; however, more than 80% said that is not always possible.

A consumer’s ability to recognize all of a product’s ingredients directly affects a brand’s bottom line; 36% of respondents said they are less likely to buy a product made with an ingredient they don’t recognize. On the other hand, nearly half (44%) said they are happy to pay a higher price for a product with recognizable ingredients. This is especially notable during a time of widespread economic uncertainty in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, results also showed brands would be wise to include additional messaging about ingredients beyond the back-of-pack list. The front-of-label claim “made with natural ingredients” is considered “very or quite appealing” by 81% of respondents; the claim “free from artificial ingredients” saw similar impact, with 78% saying it appeals to them.

“Ingredients companies have taken big steps forward to optimize their portfolios to include clean label ingredients that can be declared on-pack in clear language that most consumers will recognize,” said Richard Clark, managing director, Ingredient Communications. “Manufacturers of finished products should consider formulating – or reformulating – their products to include these ingredients, or they risk being left behind.”

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