The clean label trend is growing, but do consumers actually read them?

Dive Brief:

  • Nutrition labels are the best way for manufacturers to share their ingredient content with consumers, yet a recent Bernstein survey revealed that 48% of consumers said they distrust food labels, according to C&R Research.
  • In an effort to appease consumers’ concerns about ingredients, “clean labels,” which are used on products with relatively few ingredients and preservatives and provide adequate information about hot button items like sugars and sodium, are becoming more common at the supermarket.
  • Concerns about food vary between generations; millennials are concerned about sugar and protein levels as well as gluten-free options, while Gen Xers are least concerned with ingredients and additives. Baby boomers, meanwhile, are most concerned about sugar, sodium levels, trans fats and artificial sweeteners.

Dive Insight:

A recent International Food Information Council survey found that only 8% of respondents said they trusted food manufacturers to provide accurate information about what's contained in various food products.  

Even so, most consumers don’t even bother to look at labels, even though the information about nutritional content is right in their hands.

The C&R research team found that 47% of consumers want “Keep it Simple” information, meaning they’d rather rely on signals like public statements from the FDA and manufacturer seals of approvals, rather than transparent information on packaging. 67% of the Keep it Simple consumer category don't read the labels of the brands they trust. This has interesting implications for manufacturers, who may not need to jump on the clean label trend to maintain brand loyalty. 

The FDA is doing its part to try and have food manufacturers be clearer about what’s in the products they make, but if people aren’t looking at the labels, it’s not going to make too much of a difference.

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Filed Under: Manufacturing Ingredients Packaging / Labeling
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