Over time, consumer definitions of clean label — already a non-specific umbrella term — are getting broader and evolving says IMCD.

In 2020, over a quarter of all new food and beverage launches featured a clean label claim, including GMO-free, natural, organic and no additives/preservatives. For brands, this means clean label is a moving target they need to follow closely as it begins to overlap with other concepts.

The term clean label can differ in meaning depending on where you live, for example in APAC ‘no additives/preservatives’ is the most popular term followed by ‘ethical’ claims.

“What’s interesting for manufacturers is knowing where the opportunities lie. Take ‘natural’ claims, for example. Once popular, natural is falling out of fashion around the globe for being too vague, consumers prefer more specific positionings like plant-based and vegan. Clean label concerns can also naturally overlap with calls for transparency: a ‘clean’ label contains the fewest possible ingredients, which should all be easy for the average consumer to pronounce and identify,” says the company.

Emmanuel Colette, business group director Food & Nutrition APAC at IMCD says, “There are two ways to position a brand or product as clean label. Either adapt the product formulation and its brand positioning accordingly — progressively or in one go — or develop a new product from scratch. The right choice depends on the marketing and brand strategies you already have in play, so that you can choose the clean label approach

that’s best for your business.

“It is important to remember that consumer expectations around transparency and clean label don’t outweigh their interest in good value. Some consumers may be willing to pay a premium for clean label claims, but others will always search for the lowest price.”

The key to success is collaborating with formulation experts who understand the regulatory constraints on labelling and can provide potential solutions that won’t drive up the cost. When it comes to new product development, IMCD experts leverage the latest consumer insights to support and inspire our partners through ideation days, webinar or workshops, sharing innovations from its labs and pilot plants.