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Getting 'clean' in 2014

Clean labels are increasingly seen as a requirement for mainstream brands

I’ve noticed lately a lot more media coverage around clean foods and clean labels. In fact, last week the Wall Street Journal covered the General Mills announcement that Cheerios (Yellow Box) will be GMO free. A move that is touted as the first food manufacturer to move towards a “higher level of clean.”

This notion that consumers of mainstream brands are evolving their definition of clean, aligns with research we conducted in 2013.

The intention to “get clean” is honourable and a benefit that the majority of consumers are looking for to varying degrees.

The benefits of clean are diverse ranging from the desire to get better nutrition from their foods, “feeling & looking better”, to addressing health issues like allergies or even health conditions like heart disease.

So clean is not just for the “super nutritious” brands like a Kashi or Nature’s Path.

It is increasingly seen as a requirement for mainstream brands, some of those favourite, classic brands, consumers have in their cupboards and fridges right now.

What then is the evidence consumer’s are looking for that a product is clean?

Again, it ranges based on the “cleanliness” of the category currently and on the consumer’s level of nutrition knowledge to start with.

Once a consumer starts to focus on clean eating and gathers more and more knowledge, there tends to be an elevation to higher expectations of clean.

Some of the attributes consumers are looking for include:

- No artificial colours, ingredients or additives

- Preservative free

- Natural

- Organic

- GMO free

So how can retailers and food manufacturers leverage the “clean” trend to grow their perspective categories and brands?

For Retailers

1. Highlight foods that have done a good job launching new clean foods to an established category or brands that have renovated products to be “cleaner”. This can lead to growth in an otherwise stagnant category by re-framing the category for the consumer as a “healthier”.

2. Consider a merchandising strategy around occasions or seasonal periods when consumers may be more receptive to “clean messages” like New Years Resolution or just before “Bathing Suit Season” starts.

For Manufacturers

1. Consider the “evolving” needs of clean that will help you develop a pipeline of innovation against the clean need.

2. Influence your value chain suppliers to ensure you have the right ingredients in the right format to allow you to deliver to consumers evolving needs of clean.

In 2014……. Go Ahead “Get Clean”

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