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From Clean to Clear Labels

Posted September 30, 2021

Consumers are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to food. Health and freshness obviously play an important role in the choices they make, but ethical and environmental factors are also taken into consideration. There is a shift from a ‘clean’ label to a ‘clear’ label philosophy. Consumers demand transparency and accuracy so they can make informed choices.


Clean doesn’t mean natural

One of the biggest consumer trends in the past decade has been the need for clean labels. Not only when it comes to food products, but also in the cosmetics and health products industry. The clean label trend originated from the confusion about the meaning of the term ‘natural’, as there is no legal definition for it. Ten years ago, 'clean label products' meant that they did not contain any ingredients that were perceived negatively, such as food additives or artificial, highly processed or chemical sounding ingredients with an E number on the label.


It’s not only a matter of health

Health driven factors used to be the main drivers for this trend, but over time there has been a shift to include ethical and environmental factors as well. Today, when consumers are asked what ‘clean label’ means to them, we notice that GMO free, and dairy and meat alternatives also fall under this umbrella term. Additionally, it’s expected that ethical and sustainable lifestyles will also become a key part of the clean label movement.


Fresh and safe food

One of the challenges the food industry faces today is the fact that so many consumers prefer ‘fresh’ products. They want this fresh food to be convenient and safe without any preservatives or shelf life extenders. Creating solutions that meet these conflicting needs is particularly challenging because food producers don’t want to sacrifice on taste and quality.


From ‘clean’ to ‘clear’ label philosophy

The consumer’s need for transparency is pushing the food industry from a purely ‘clean’ label to a ‘clear’ label philosophy. Transparency and accuracy about the contents of products is seen as a vital part of clear labelling. Clear label should go a step further and provide simple, clear messaging on which consumers can make informed decisions. Not only do they prefer ingredients they are familiar with, but they also want to know what the ingredients does. The move from clean to clear label is an opportunity for the industry to position themselves as sources of reliable, transparent, and accurate information.


Kemin leads the clear label movement

At Kemin, we strive to tick all the boxes of the clean to clear label movement. We know that the consumer is more demanding than ever when going to the supermarket. They want to know what they are eating. They look for ‘clear’ labels where they expect to find shorter ingredients lists with recognisable ingredients, such as buffered vinegar and rosemary extract. Familiar and trustworthy kitchen ingredients will provide what they look for to keep their food safe and fresh for as long as possible.