If you look at the food and eating trends that have existed over the last 100 years, it’s clear that we have come full circle.
Prior to the 20th century, everyone ate more natural foods. They ate seasonally grown fruit and vegetables, visited the local butcher, and baked their own bread. And then everything changed.
The two World Wars demanded food that could be preserved as it was shipped to the front lines. As more women entered the workforce, convenience became king in the kitchen. Industrialization and innovations in food manufacturing made it easier than ever to mass produce food.
Today, it’s to the point where 70% of the food we eat in America is processed.
And yet, over the past ten years or so, our culture has been making its way back to “real food.” With the help of new research in health and nutrition, food documentaries, and FDA regulations that expose what’s in our food, we’ve finally reached the end of our processed obsession and are back to believing that natural, clean food is best for our bodies, souls and overall health.
But is “clean label” real? Is it even possible? Isn’t everything you buy from a grocery store packaged, processed and shipped?
What does it mean to have a “clean label?”
Clean label means that we are moving toward ingredient decks and recipes that remove gums, stabilizers, preservatives, additives and more. It means that we are trending to make our food more recognizable, understandable and real.
It does not mean that manufacturing is dead or that processed grains, sugars and spices will wither away but that the ones we choose to eat will be closer to nature.
Should your brand move toward a cleaner label?
In short, yes. If your ingredients deck has some mysterious additives or confusing terms, you should definitely consider simplifying for a few reasons:
1. Modern consumers favor healthier foods.
Today’s shopper wants to know what is in their food and be confident that it is healthy. According to a recent survey, 27% of consumers say that health concerns influence their food choices and 41% believe that limited or no artificial ingredients or preservatives define “natural” food. Your product will better appeal to these customers if you formulate the ingredients and position your brand with health and transparency in mind.
2. Millennial shoppers demand good behavior from companies.
The Millennial generation, which is aging into their 30s and making up a larger percentage of the grocery-buying population, is very mindful that what they purchase is good for themselves and the world at large. They care about the impact of food on the culture, on the environment, and on their bodies, and they are more likely to buy your product if your label reflects clean, natural, sustainable ingredients.
3. This trend toward health and simplicity will benefit everyone.
Unlike other questionable low calorie, low fat, low carb fads and trends over the past few decades, the clean ingredient movement is undoubtedly a healthier alternative to food that is laden with additives and preservatives. As more families and more companies adopt the clean eating mindset, the healthier our country will be.
This is a wonderful and important movement for both the food industry overall and for our own families. I have been watching this trend truly blossom over the past few years and I’m hopeful and excited to see it become more prevalent, recognized, and celebrated.