Ingredion follows the evolution of the clean label

While reformulation takes time and money, 75% of North American manufacturers surveyed said their revenues had increased, while 68% said their margins had increased, said Daniel Haley, global leader in platform for clean and simple ingredients at Ingredion, which pioneered the development of clean functional labeling. native starches.

“We knew it was driving revenue growth, but we didn’t know if our customers were really benefiting from a profitability perspective, so it was fascinating to see that.”

In some cases, cleaning up labels can improve nutrient profiles and save money, he added, noting that even customers who didn’t raise prices following reformulations were “able to reduce their total cost of formulation or their production efficiency in the process, allowing them to increase their margin and revenue as sales increase.

“An example of this would be our yogurt customers who use our latest multifunctional tapioca flours to replace modified starch; their unique texture also allows them to reduce fat content, improving the nutritional profile and cost of their formulations.

“The UK is well ahead of the US in clean label, but other countries in Europe are behind the US”

The percentage of manufacturers in North America (81%) who agreed that offering clean label food and beverages was “Extremely importantto their business strategy, was significantly higher than it was in Europe (36%), APAC (44%), South America (47%) and Mexico (52%), Haley added.

While some European countries, notably the United Kingdom, are “well ahead of the United Stateswhen it comes to clean labeling, Haley said, “other countries in Europe are behind the United States, such as France, Germany and Italy, although France is really catching up​.”


“In terms of ingredient acceptability in North America, there are a number of ingredients accepted only by about one-third of consumers. Ingredients in this area include gellan gum, maltodextrin, sodium alginate, carrageenan and CMC.

“Then there are ingredients that divide consumers in terms of their acceptability, such as pectin, inulin/chicory root fiber, glucose syrup and modified starch.

“Clean label ingredients, accepted by two-thirds of consumers and more, include rice flour, corn starch, rice starch, gelatin, potato starch, fiber citrus fruits and tapioca flour.”

Daniel Haley, global platform leader for clean and simple ingredients, Ingredion

Clean label: “For consumers, it’s about familiarity more than anything else”

So how was clean label defined in the survey, and do definitions vary from market to market?

“We were interested as part of the survey to understand how these companies themselves define the clean label”, said Haley“So we had a section in the study that dealt with that, and then we presented our definition to them and asked them to answer some questions along those lines.”

As for how consumers perceive the clean label, it’s not just about whether the ingredients come from a “natural” source, but whether they’re familiar, he said, noting that several ingredients viewed with suspicion by consumers are derived from natural sources. , methylcellulose (from wood pulp or cotton), maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup (from corn) and lecithin (from soybeans or sunflower seeds), alginate sodium and carrageenan (from seaweed).

For consumers, it’s about familiarity more than anything else; what is clear in all our studies is that the consumer must recognize the source and that the name of the source reflects a very simple treatment, if there is any indication of treatment taking place.

“So anything resembling a chemical has very low consumer acceptance, even with some gums and hydrocolloids, because consumers don’t recognize where it comes from.”

“The vast majority of hydrocolloids are poorly accepted by consumers”

For gums and hydrocolloids he said, “I am generalizing here, but the vast majority of hydrocolloids have low consumer acceptance. At the bottom of the scale you have methylcellulose and xanthan gum, which is very poorly understood, and gellan gum.

For the starches, he said“the word ‘modified’ can be​ [incorrectly] associated with genetic modification for a percentage of consumers, then there is another percentage that associates “modified” with chemical modification. Consumers are therefore ideally looking for a simpler starch label with the name of the base, such as corn starch or tapioca starch, but potentially even better is a flour label, as flour is considered less processed than starch.

Overall, he says“Consumers are becoming progressively more demanding and we’re on a continuum towards what we call ‘simple’, which is trying to make products only with a label that is truly authentic to what you would expect if you were making that product. at home or in a restaurant.

“The clean label is more important for consumers on products consumed daily”

While consumers generally want cleaner labels, they’re willing to give certain brands or categories more leeway than others (keto-lovers agree with erythritol — an ingredient you won’t find in grandma’s cooking – in a keto baking mix, because they watch carbs very carefully, for example).

While consumers also intuitively understand that you can’t duplicate the functional qualities of egg or beef with just a few plant-based ingredients, next-generation plant-based products will have to meet “highly processed” critics. Haley said.

“In general, the clean label is more important for consumers on products consumed daily ​[as opposed to treats, for example], but the dining experience is always critical.

“In the initial phase, everyone rushed and relied on ingredients that they knew had the functionality. But phase two is clearly starting to happen now; we’re starting to get more and more requests for clean label solutions to clean these products.

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