According to a survey, commissioned by GNT and conducted by market research institute TNS, products that carried a label stating “coloured with fruit and vegetables” on the front of their packaging saw an uptick in consumer brand preference.
“This claim proved to have the strongest impact,” GNT revealed. “It communicated the use of natural ingredients clearly and positively [and] brand preference was still significantly enhanced even when a price increase was applied.”
The impact of the labelling claim varied by product category. The brand preference expressed for yogurt carrying this claim rose by 9%, it increased by 18.9% for beverages, 20.5% for ice cream and 32.2% for confectionery.
The positive claim boosted consumer brand preference more significantly than a front of pack claim stating that the product contained “no artificial colours”, the researchers noted. “Brand preference rose by between 9.2% and 20.3% depending on the product. This was a ‘negative’ claim as it communicated what wasn’t in the product, rather than what was.”
Clean labels in demand
The survey reinforced growing global demand for so-called ‘clean’ labels, which consumers believe should be free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.
A total of 66% of respondents said that they check the ingredients list of products they buy, 67% said that they wanted to see “easy to understand ingredient information” on labels and 60% revealed they want “clear nutritional information” provided front of pack.
Defining natural colours, 42% of shoppers said they expect natural food colourings to originate from edible raw material such as fruit and vegetables. Only 21% perceive colours made from substances such as insects or minerals to be “truly natural”.
Food makers still playing catch-up
While there has been a significant increase in the number of products being launched and reformulated to meet growing demand for ‘natural’ products, consumers do not believe that the food industry is doing enough. Fewer than 16% of consumers felt that products on the market are sufficiently natural, the survey found.
Some product categories are viewed as meeting clean label requirements more than others. More than 55% of those surveyed thought that soft drinks and sweets “usually contain undesired additives” compared to 24% and 39% of consumers felt the same about yoghurt and ice cream respectively.
The survey also uncovered a relatively high level of consumer scepticism towards the natural claims that are currently being made: “Forty-five percent of consumers don’t believe in brands that claim to be natural. They feel the ‘naturalness’ claims on the front of the pack don’t match the complex ingredient list on the back,” the researchers concluded.