Clean Label

Megan Poinski

Note from the editor

What is clean label?

It's one of the hottest trends in the food business today, but it has never been officially defined. Many manufacturers and consumers think of clean label products as those with shorter ingredients lists made up of items that consumers recognize. In the world of clean labels, chemical-sounding names are out, while simple ingredients are in.

Consumers look for these products as a way to enhance their health. In fact, 91% of consumers believe food and beverage items with recognizable ingredients are healthier, according to Innova Market Insights statistics cited in a clean label campaign. Studies show that when choosing products, consumers prioritize clean labels over brands.

But while clean labels draw consumers' eyes, they also can easily cause confusion. With no real definition of the term, consumers are often unsure what actually makes a clean label. They also tend to think clean label products are healthier, which is not always the case.

This report looks at several aspects of the clean label trend:

  • Why clean label has such staying power and how the trend will continue to evolve.
  • A look at how clean label went from something that differentiated a product to something consumers expect.
  • An interview with former Institute of Food Technologists president Roger Clemens about the challenges and future for clean label.
  • Examining how healthy clean label products truly are.
  • An interview with Lightlife on its campaign urging Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat to clean up their labels.
  • Talking with Kerry's director of marketing insights about how the ingredients company helps manufacturers transition their products to have cleaner labels.
  • Looking at how manufacturers can help consumers trust their cleaner label products.

We hope you enjoy this look at the clean label trend.

Megan Poinski Senior Reporter

Onward and upward: Clean label trend shows no signs of slowing

Despite the proliferation of products with simpler ingredient lists, experts say there is plenty of room to grow — especially down the supply chain.

• Published Jan. 14, 2019

How clean label went from differentiator to standard

In a white paper, Kerry looked at how the term has evolved and what manufacturers can do to try to meet consumers' requirements today.

• Published Nov. 7, 2019

Clean label movement faces consumer confusion and regulatory hurdles

Roger Clemens, the former president of the Institute of Food Technologists, talked to Food Dive about the challenges and future for the ambiguous term.

• Published Jan. 14, 2019

Are clean label foods healthy?

At IFT18, panelists discussed the disconnect between consumer perception of the mega trend's benefits and the actual impact it has on nutrition and sustainability.

• Published July 23, 2018

Lightlife urges Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat to clean up their labels

In an ad in several newspapers, the 41-year-old company says its burger made with 11 easily recognized ingredients represents a future that is "cleaner, tastier, and nutritionally superior."

• Published Aug. 25, 2020 • Updated Aug. 26, 2020

How Kerry helps companies transition their food and beverage products to clean label

The company's director of marketing insights told Food Dive about the challenges the shift has caused, where it is heading and the most common ingredients being targeted by its customers.

• Published Jan. 14, 2019

How food makers can overcome the clean label 'trust gap'

Only 40% of consumers have faith in the products they eat and drink, but manufacturers can improve that perception with strategic development and marketing, InsightsNow told IFT19.

• Published June 5, 2019