Confusion over 'clean label' definition throws manufacturers' use of term into question
- More than one-third (34%) of consumers across the globe do not understand the meaning of the term "clean label," according to a new survey from Canadean.
- In the U.S., where the clean label movement is in full force, that number jumps to nearly half (45%), which means manufacturers may need to reconsider their marketing strategies to get the clearest message across to consumers.
- One in 10 consumers said they would pay a 5% or more premium for a "clean label" product, which suggests that those who do understand the meaning of the term also attribute a higher value to products that make that claim.
A study released last year found that one in five tracked products made a clean label claim, over 17% the year before. The most common clean label applications involved natural sweeteners, natural colors, and thickeners. Recent developments in the food industry align with the clean label movement, including Mars' announcement earlier this month that it would remove artificial colors from all human products in its portfolio, which includes about 50 brands, over the next five years.
Confusion over label terminology can hinder these companies' efforts. Another study from earlier this year demonstrated similar confusion over what the term "natural" means on a product label, in part because the term is not regulated by the FDA and therefore can have multiple meanings depending on which company is employing the term. With "clean label" also not regulated at this point, similar issues could arise.
The FDA, however, is making strides to do something about the confusion over "natural," which has led to many lawsuits against food companies over the years. The agency recently extended the comment period for a definition of "natural" to May 10.
- Food Business News Consumers not clear on clean label definition