What does the Clean Label Trend imply for the beverage market? We talked to Emma Schofield, Global Food Science Analyst at the global market research company Mintel.
Clean label originated from consumers’ interest in naturalness in food and drink, where consumers sought ‘clean label’ products that contained as few additives and artificial ingredients as possible. However, in some countries like Germany or the UK where the clean label trend is more established, clean label has become more of an expectation than a selling point.
Transparency and naturalness are set to become an important topic to beverage consumers in future. Clean label attributes such as ‘short ingredients lists’ are attractive to many, and brands are reacting to this requirement. A well known beverage brand, for example, has launched a range of dairy-free drinks with the strapline ‘just three ingredients’ written on the front of the product label. However, delivering extreme versions of short and simple ingredients lists is often problematic from a New Product Development (NPD) perspective, due to the impact on other product attributes such as taste or price, as examples.
Where do the ingredients come from?
The food industry can help to build consumers trust in food and drink by offering a greater degree of transparency about ingredients. Offering consumers details about processing techniques, and ingredient sourcing, for example, may help to remove some of the mystery around ingredients that are not ‘kitchen cupboard’ staples that consumers may be unfamiliar with.
In the beverages sector, sweetening solutions that reduce sugar while being compatible with consumers’ interest in naturalness and clean label become increasingly attractive. Plant-derived sweeteners like stevia are often used as an alternative to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, but may fall short on consumers’ expectations for taste. Conversely, artificial sweeteners may deliver from a taste perspective, but are avoided by many consumers due to negative perceptions.
Like sugar-sweetened beverages such as carbonated soft drinks, caffeinated energy drinks have also received negative attention from a health perspective. Energy drinks with natural sources of caffeine, may prove attractive as clean label alternatives to conventional caffeinated energy drinks.
Clean label and naturalness (using natural flavours and colours) are becoming more important to parents who are buying drinks for their children.
Clean Label Beverages – Best Practice Examples
Mintel have identified the following examples of how manufacturers are incorporating clean label into different types of beverages.
Honest Organic Kids Appley Ever After Fruit Juice Drink
‘No added sugar’ in children’s drinks
Features prominent front of pack claims ‘no added sugar’, ‘no colours’, ‘no sweeteners’ and ‘no preservatives’.
Ingredients: water, organic fruit juices from concentrate (35%) (apple juice from concentrate(17.5%), grape juice from concentrate (17.5%), natural flavouring
BodyArmor SuperDrink Orange Mango Sport Drink
Coconut water for naturalness in sports drinks
This sports drink contains 10% coconut water which boosts the natural image of the sports drink, because coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes. The product features the claims ’no caffeine’, ’no colours from artificial sources’, and ’natural flavours and sweeteners’.
Tonica di Bergamotto
Fruity Bergamot in Italian Tonic Water
The fresh, carbonated version of Tonic Water uses Quassia with digestive properties instead of quinine. Bergamot and citrus give a fresh taste - without aromas and preservatives.