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Natural Ingredients in Food and Beverages: Defining the Next Move

December 2016

In recent years, use of the term “natural” to describe products and ingredients has multiplied. This has led to difficulties, as new natural materials have been required to replace synthetic ingredients, with varying degrees of success. A lack of regulation also means there is uncertainty regarding what “natural” actually is. This report considers the difficulty of using natural claims and explores how specific ingredient categories have adapted to fit the natural trend.

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Natural demand continues to grow

The huge desire for natural products shows no sign of abating, with consumers paying more attention to product labels and showing a preference for those that use natural ingredients. There is a clear mistrust of artificial additives and chemicals.

There is no simple way to define “natural”

Manufacturers are currently able to use their own discretion when describing a product as natural. Consequently, there is no conclusive idea of what the term “natural” means and what it should and should not include. The lack of clear definition is causing confusion and harming the believability of natural claims.

Certain ingredients fit better into the natural trend than others

Some ingredient types, such as polysaccharides and oligosaccharides, can comfortably integrate into the natural trend, as several of the ingredients traditionally used are considered natural. For others, such as preservatives and antioxidants, breaking into the natural trend is difficult as there are few existing natural options and potential replacements cannot provide the same efficacy as their artificial predecessors.

R&D is enabling new natural solutions to be found

Ingredient manufacturers are looking to overcome the difficulty in replacing artificial ingredients by developing new solutions with a basis in nature. This has led to new raw materials, such as stevia, being used in food products while others, including many botanicals are repurposed.

Manufacturers feel a compulsion to go natural

As consumer demand has grown, numerous natural products have been released to take advantage. This has meant existing products have had to reformulate to keep up or else risk being shunned by consumers.


Key findings

Unravelling Natural

What is natural? (1) A lack of consensus
What is natural? (2) Litigation and regulation
Organic creates further confusion
GM not a natural fit
Consumer demand: Natural tied to health
Manufacturers compelled to act in spite of difficulties
Several challenges for natural supply

Ingredient Analysis

Botanicals: Positive outlook for growth
Botanicals a perfect fit for natural trend
Colours: An increasingly dynamic area
Colours: Colouring foods stifle growth
Emulsifiers: Addressing a variety of concerns
Emulsifiers: Natural options spearhead growth
Flavours: Demand creates concerns
Flavours: Beverages hold most opportunity
Polysaccharides and oligosaccharides: Natural overtakes the rest
Polysaccharides and oligosaccharides: Natural not always enough
Preservatives and antioxidants: Artificials clinging on
Preservatives and antioxidants: Natural increasingly demanded
Sweeteners: Non-natural sweeteners set to fall
Sweeteners: Natural looks to complement health

Future Outlook

Where to start with a natural definition?
Attention shifting onto processing and production
Is natural still the future?


Definitions (1)
Definitions (2)
Definitions (3)


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