European manufacturers prioritize clean label products

European manufacturers prioritize clean label products
Photo - Ingredion

A new wave of decade-spanning research from Ingredion states that clean-label products are set to dominate portfolios within the next two years, making up over 70% — up from 52% in 2021.

The rise supports consumer preference for transparency and simplicity in ingredients, a key trend in today's European food and beverage industry.  

The proprietary study, ATLAS, was conducted in partnership with Clear Seas Research. It also found that 99% of European manufacturers see clean-label products as essential to their business strategy, with 87% already incorporating these into their products. This reflects the industry's commitment to transparency and simplicity in ingredients, which aligns with increasing consumer demand for recognizable ingredients.  

Constantin Drapatz, senior marketing manager – of Clean & Simple Food Ingredients at Ingredion, said, "It is exciting to see the overwhelming response from food manufacturers, making clean label part of their business strategy with more than half of manufacturers reporting increased revenue and margins without raising prices. For more than a decade, our ATLAS research has confirmed the consumers' desire for transparency and healthier eating. We are very proud of this research; our company is not named when conducting surveys, and customers worldwide have given us confidence in our results by re-confirming insights.  It's evident that clean labels and nutrition profiles are not just consumer preferences but are driving business growth. 

"The industry's increasing move towards sugar reduction, especially through low-calorie natural-origin sweeteners, aligns with the health-conscious consumer base and fosters innovation in product development. This shift meets the demand for healthier options and marks a broader trend towards health and wellness, highlighting the critical role of ingredient selection in future food and beverage offerings." 

The study also demonstrates that adopting clean label strategies is linked to higher product quality, a more positive brand reputation, and attractiveness to new customers. 

Drapatz added, "The results represent a continuum post-COVID-19. During the pandemic, there was a boost in consumer´s choice of products with labels and ingredient lists in line with their values and perception of health. Despite the more challenging economic environment, the industry has expanded its focus and relevance of clean labels. By focusing on recognizable ingredients and part of a short ingredient list, manufacturers can tap into a growing market segment that values transparency and quality." 

“This approach responds directly to the consumer desire for cleaner labels and presents an opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves in a competitive market — and shows how manufacturers are actively contributing to a healthier food ecosystem.”  

Ingredion's insights offer a comprehensive blueprint for food and beverage manufacturers aiming to align with evolving consumer preferences for clean-label and sugar-reduced products. As the industry moves forward, these strategies will not meet consumer demands, innovation, and growth within the sector.

*All data obtained via Ingredion proprietary research, ATLAS data, 2023

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