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Clean Label: From Health to Transparency

March 2021

Clean label has become more pertinent in recent years and claim visibility has become more essential with the rise of e-commerce. The definition of clean products is also nudging past the limits of health and nutrition to cover a more holistic perception of wellness, including food safety and transparency. This report showcases case studies of how category growth is bolstered by the introduction of clean products and how companies tap into claims for a competitive edge.

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Key Findings

Much room to shift the definition and limits of clean label

Clean label has evolved in recent years from being exclusively linked to nutrition, to a broader definition of health and wellness. Clean label also includes the processing level of the product, the latter of which has gained much attention in certain parts of the world.

Potential to widen the reach of clean label products

In emerging markets where relatively high price points are a significant barrier, increased attention on e-commerce channels will dampen consumer deterrence. Although traditional trade is still the most significant channel, e-commerce will strongly raise the awareness and visibility of clean label products.

Unavoidable link to health remains

Many manufacturers leverage clean label to position themselves as more healthful. This strategy has proven successful to debunk an unhealthy image of certain categories, as well as to differentiate brands from others. Despite the constant reinvention of clean label, its link to health is not likely to be severed.

New consumer needs will see brands tap into clean label

Shifting meal occasions and a surge of players into packaged food are likely to see a stronger increase of clean label products. Key areas for growth include meal solutions at home, especially in markets where the demand for shelf stable packaged food is high due to a low penetration of fridge freezers.

Transparency as the focus in years to come

An overall shift of consumer preference towards purposeful consumption and sustainability will benefit clean label as well and continue to challenge what it means for a brand to be “clean” – consequently raising the importance of natural food and clean label in an increasingly purpose-driven future of food.

Introduction

Scope
Key findings

Defining Clean Label

Grey definition for clean label, though strongly associated with health
A quick look into the most common clean label terminology
Staple food as a major product vehicle for preservativ es
Growth of “natural” is broadly stronger than fortified/functional
Consumers are more discerning, changing the perception of natural
Clean label will evolve, with some developments taking more time
Clean label as a way to debunk an unhealthy image

Health Perception: focus on India

Case study: clean label in India
Clean label in India holds promise with growth of health and wellness
E-commerce raises clean label visibility, spiking consumer interest
Yoga Bars in India: healthfulness with emphasis on ingredients
Target group for clean label in India has potential to expand

Balancing Natural With New Needs

Habit and routine of meals at home likely to strengthen in 2021
Slow return of foodservice is an opportunity for packaged food
Casa Verde, Peru: an agricultural producer moving into ready meals
Clean label adds assurance to ambient food with long shelf life
Consumer desire for indulgence balanced with wellness escalates
Natural positioning helps consumers indulge guilt-free

Transparency as the Core

Transparency grants consumers greater control
Clean label brand Honesta shows transparency in sugary foods
Shift from less favoured nutrients to transparency on processing level
Authenticity and food safety expected to further define clean label
Using natural ingredients is part of a bigger pu rpose
Clean label will be a mainstay for sustainable, purpose-driven food

Appendix

About Via Online Tracking from Euromonitor International
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