My Clean Label Perspective

June 16, 2016

June 2016 – I hate to tell you this, but our customers have a trust problem with our industry, and the only way to fix it is by keeping it clean – clean label, that is.

No, this is not another short-lived industry trend or passing fad. Clean label (or, as it’s sometimes called, “free-from”) is an expression of a global and fundamental shift to eating foods that are as close as possible to the way nature made them. One thing is certain: Consumers want transparency and storytelling, and they’re making their demands heard.

So far, our industry is rapidly embracing this shift. Major companies and retailers are making clean label offerings and private brands. Chefs and food scientists have unleashed their creativity at breakneck speeds, and manufacturers now have a robust toolkit of natural colors, flavors, preservatives and processing aids.

Here it is, plain and simple: If you haven’t started discussing your clean label strategy, you’re already behind the curve. If you’re in the beginning stages of implementing something like this at your company, here are three core things to focus on:

  1. Do you have a forward-looking plan to clean up your ingredient lists? Have you thought about a mechanism to communicate your free-from propositions to your customers? Another thing to plan for (and this is important): How will you make sure your new products still taste good? Taste is non-negotiable. Your goal should be to keep your customers healthy and also happy, which brings me to my next point…
  1. Promote Positivity. Avoid being all “doom and gloom” about the bad stuff and focus on the good! Communicate with your customers about what they SHOULD be eating, and don’t put too much emphasis on what they shouldn’t. We’re going to see more and more brands touting sustainability and ethical business practices, such as mitigating food waste, animal welfare and charitable affiliations. Try to follow their lead.
  1. Personalize. Consumers demand personalized and targeted efforts from the retailers and brands they buy from. As clean label becomes the new baseline in food, shoppers will shift focus to hyper-personalized nutrition by using self-quantification technology to tailor their eating and shopping routines to their individual needs. Step up your wellness game and get ahead of the pack by starting discussions with partners in these industries right now. Seriously – get to it!

In following my own advice here, let me steer clear of being too “doom and gloom.” The good news, according to all of the research out there, is that consumers are willing to trust again, but only on their terms. The question is, what are you willing to do in order to earn that trust back?

Feel free to reach out to me at JimH@daymon.com with your thoughts as well as to discuss how Daymon can help your brand keep it clean.

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