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How Clean Labels Are Impacting Purchasing Decisions

How Clean Labels Are Impacting Purchasing Decisions

Now more than ever, consumers are paying attention to the labels on their food. Nearly every label in the grocery store has some sort of health claim: organic, non-GMO, all natural, gluten-free, no artificial preservatives, etc. Consumers have begun to equate healthier options with labels that are more concise and 65% of consumers admit that they look for the shortest list of ingredients when making a purchase, according to an IDDBA report. The mindset being that health foods contain more real foods, 58% of consumers also say they look for food and beverages with ingredients that are recognizable, the same study also reports.


Consumers, made up largely of the Millennials and the iGeneration, are also latching onto the idea of locally sourced and environmentally sustainable products, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA) in “What’s Hot.” In fact, the IDDBA reports that 59% of respondents consider Sustainable Food Production when looking at a label.

Trends in clean labels, such as veggie forward cuisine and clean nutritional decks, seem to promote the idea that consumers are looking for a back-to-basics approach to simplicity in food. Consumers are also turning from things like normal dairy products to plant-based dairy products. In fact, an IDDBA report states that almond, pea, and coconut- based alternatives are on their way to making up 40% of the total dairy market by 2021 based on the 61% growth seen in sales between 2012 and 2017.

However, the desire for cleaner labels doesn’t just stop with health foods. On the contrary, Matt Lally of Nielsen Fresh reported that “even indulgent products can resonate with some health and wellness consumers through the use of clean labeling and natural ingredients”. According to an IDDBA report, this translates over to the deli department as well where 83% of consumers want products with fewer ingredients and 85% would like to see healthier ingredients in their prepared deli foods.

The takeaway here is that consumer purchases, healthy and indulgent alike, are being impacted by the use of clean labels. The Millennial and iGeneration are ultimately looking for items with the shortest list of ingredients they recognize on labels of locally sourced and environmentally sustainable products.

Matt Haskell