Transparency, clean label, are catch-all terms that we hear more and more in the food industry and have major consequences on the products’ formulation.
What are we talking about? We went back to the source of the trend, consumers’ perceptions and expectations regarding processed food. In 2017 we have conducted over 4000 consumer interviews across European countries, applying quantitative and qualitative approaches to understand what consumers mean and look for in terms of transparency and clean label, focusing on the ingredient list.

Watchful consumers
We found out that consumers are more and more watchful about the food they eat, a significant part of them paying more attention to the packaging information than 5 years ago focusing in particular on the ingredient list.

They tend to read the packaging when they are uncertain about the food product, for instance in the case of a new product, a brand they don’t know or a new claim.

Ingredients avoided
We asked them what ingredients or constituents they would avoid or limit in their diet in general. This question revealed significant differences according the countries. The British focus on nutritional values, trying primarily to avoid sugar, salt and fat, whereas the Germans and the French show also concern about pesticide residues.

Avoidance strategies are also segment dependent as underpinned by several researches we have conducted on different sweet and savoury applications. Sugar for instance is the #1 ingredient avoided in soft drinks by almost half of the European respondents, while in chocolate bars only 15% of the respondents are preoccupied by the sugar content. Generally speaking consumers’ avoidance is mainly driven by the combination of 4 factors: health perception, artificial sounding denominations, ethical considerations and perceived consistency with the product category.

Flavour image
What are consumers’ perceptions of flavours in the ingredient list? Most consumers see flavours as positive ingredients bringing taste and making food more enjoyable. Compared with other ingredients, flavours are not a concern for a majority of consumers, 87% of the respondents would not avoid or limit them in their diet in general. Regarding natural flavours, confidence is even stronger, as only 2% of the consumers would avoid/limit them.

140 years of natural expertise
Consumers’ trust is paramount for MANE and we plan to track their perception of ingredients and flavours in the coming years, making sure we deliver applications and solutions aligned with their expectations. With over 140 years of expertise in natural solutions, we have developed the best in class techniques in extraction. In recent years we have fostered the vertical integration of additional raw materials by acquiring natural ingredient leaders such as Kancor in India.