Posted at 26 June 2018
More than ever, US consumers mistrust or don’t understand their food labels. What they want are clear and simple ingredients.
Clean and clear labels
Consumers have never been as aware about health issues linked to the harmful additives in processed food as they are today. They thoroughly read the labels and compare lists of ingredients before deciding to purchase a particular product. Furthermore, 75% of consumers say they do not trust the accuracy of food labels and 35% admit being confused by the real meaning of labels1. “Today, consumers need reassurance about what they eat so they carefully look for any ‘hidden’ toxic ingredients in their food,” explains Quentin Brouet, Savory Category Director, Diana Food. “We must keep this simple rule in mind: labels should be free of any harmful chemical additives such as artificial colorings, preservatives and ‘E-somethings’ to have familiar ingredients consumers can understand – as if they were cooking from scratch.”
Changing to survive
Quentin Brouet says that consumers’ mistrust and wariness about processed foods have led to a much-needed comprehensive shift within the industry. “All big key industry players are being seriously challenged on these health issues by smaller actors leveraging the ‘no-additives’ trend. This is why you see leading global companies adapting their strategies to regain consumers’ trust and add value to their offers. We are witnessing an important wave of acquisitions of smaller companies specialized in this whole health and ethics trend, including products with organic, local sourcing and animal welfare claims. Big players are also actively revamping their portfolios to remove unacceptable ingredients or introduce new suitable recipes.”
Aligning labels with claims
However, companies must be careful not to mislead consumers with abusive claims! “Some industry stakeholders paid a steep price after playing it fast and loose with certain claims and consumer perceptions. One such example is Pepsico, which lost a class action lawsuit against its Naked Juice brand that was wrongly marketed as a product with ‘all-natural’ ingredients.” Even when regulatory restrictions are fully met, there is a certain subjectivity that comes into play. “We know that every word matters. For example, ‘chicken broth’ is viewed more positively than ‘chicken extract which is perceived to be less natural”.
1 2016 Label Insight Food Revolution Study