Food label Getty Images/ScottOlson

K.I.S.S. confusing food labels goodbye

Food labels, time to keep it simple

Clean labels for food are no longer a trend but a rule for the upcoming year, according to global market firms. The terms now appearing on food labels – gluten-free, fat-free, GMO-free, natural and many more – are just creating mass confusion across the board. Honestly, as food companies try to capture their share of the market, it only leads to artistic word storms, perplexity for consumers and misguided food policies.

Move over those crazy food terms; consumers are starting to fire back. According to the national annual survey of 1,700 dieticians, food transparency has eased consumers’ concerns. The dieticians surveyed say customers are 20% less concerned with terms like GMO-free, sustainability and gluten free.

For 2017, consumers are focusing less on dieting and more on clean and mindful eating. Going hand-in-hand with this new food trend means people are reaching for food with clean labels that include an ingredient list that is small and easy to understand.

A recent global consumer study by the public relations firm Ingredient Communications confirms the dieticians’ conclusion that clean labeling is a leading food trend in the new year. In their survey of 1,300 consumers across Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, 52% of respondents say they would spend over 10% more on a food or beverage product that contained ingredients they recognize and trust.

Noteworthy, U.S. consumers were willing to pay the highest price with more than 44% stating they would pay 75% or more extra for recognized and trusted ingredients. This was followed by consumers in India (32%), the Philippines (29%) and Malaysia (26%), indicating a strong preference for recognizable ingredients among consumers in Asia.

While the concept of eating “clean” and “mindful” is not brand new, it does seem to be the new wave among foodies for 2017. For consumers carefully following the trend, it means leaving heavy processed food behind and getting back to the basics with raw ingredients.

Food manufacturers have seen this food trend coming as some are investing in reformulating items to meet the new food demand. Take, for instance; Campbell’s Soup just launched a new Well Yes! line of clean label, featuring ready-to-serve soups with easy to read ingredients. Still, consumer surveys also reveal that customers do not want clean labels on all segments of food. In general, consumers are not as concerned with ingredients on luxury food and beverages. So, it may not return on investment for food companies of indulgent items or snacks to invest in reformulation.

Nevertheless, this evolution in food trends is not bad for animal proteins. If consumers stick to keeping it simple when eating, then meat could fit nicely in the nutritional plan. Perhaps, it is time to go retro and reel in the food labels that really do not mean anything more than food companies trying to outdo each other. Maybe, we should take a lesson some of us learned in livestock judging – K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple silly).

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