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Food innovation- Available ingredients for clean label manufacturing
Wednesday, 27 October, 2021, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Joshna Joseph
Food is a global language and it depends on the food entrepreneurs as to how to develop and innovate new food products as per the consumer demands. Food innovation involves the availability of a certain type of food in the market, market research on what kind of food products do consumers prefer. After analysing these points, food innovation begins. Nowadays, due to consumer demands, food industries have developed food which is convenient and has a long shelf life. With more and more people turning to a healthy lifestyle many food companies have come up with healthy food options such as vegan, gluten free, dairy free and preservative free. Ready-to-eat food products have also come up in the market due to consumer demands for quick and convenient foods.
Clean label is not a scientific term but it is a term which is coined for the consumers itself by the food industry. It refers to putting forth whatever ingredients are used on the label. Clean labels include few ingredients and are mostly preservative free. This gives consumers the idea of what kind of food they are consuming and what health benefits can be obtained from such kinds of foods.

Easily recognised by the consumers
Clean labelling involves the usage of those ingredients which are easily recognised by the consumers. Label claims such as sugar free (even when the product contains honey/maple syrup), natural, authentic, real, pure, original etc. are used to confuse the consumers so that the consumers buy such food products without realising that these products do contain preservatives.

Consumers are now becoming aware of the types of preservatives used and their effects on human health and most of these preservatives are hidden behind the INS/E numbers which the consumers do not understand. Therefore to make it easy for the consumers to know what they are consuming better, clean labels have come into the picture. Also, there are certain contaminants that enter the food chain in the natural food products which go unnoticed and which can cause chronic illnesses in humans, therefore regular food testing is required to detect any possible contaminants present in the food.

Consumers nowadays want to know what is there inside their food, for example, if tocopherol which is mentioned on the label is not easily understood by people that it is vitamin E, but because of food regulations the company has to put more scientific name instead of common name. Clean labels help in solving such problems. Due to the lack of familiarity of the consumers with such scientific names a mistrust between the consumers and the food industry has been created, clean labels on the other hand help in bridging the gap between the industry and the consumers.

Preparing clean label is a challenge
For food companies, preparing clean label is a challenge as it will involve bringing out all their ingredients and due to this they may undergo losses but food companies must accept this challenge and innovate products which are healthier, safer for a prolonged period of time. In order to get into clean labelling the food companies must understand who their real consumers are. Millennials are the ones who are active in checking regarding the products and giving reviews about it. Many companies are embracing this concept of clean label. Heinz has replaced their artificial orange colour in the mac and cheese with annatto, turmeric and paprika which are natural and also have health benefits. Nestle is also trying to bring out clean label products that will benefit the consumers.

Step 1 for clean labelling is shortening your ingredient list.
Step 2 for clean labelling is replacing artificial ingredients by the naturally available alternatives
Step 3 for clean labelling is make a simple and clear packaging
Step 4 for clean labelling is implement sustainable practices

When all these 4 steps are done correctly then you can claim your product to be clean labelled.

Clean labelling is very new in the market and more awareness about clean labelling is required for new food product innovations that may help consumers to lead a healthy and safe life. Many food companies are hesitant to take up clean labelling as it will require a lot of efforts from the company as well as their marketing team to market their product to be clean labelled as clean labelling will require reformulation of their original recipes and also a lot of capital.
(The author is R&D Manager at Soch Foods LLP)
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