Clean label trend slows demand for food additives

The global COVID-19 pandemic is strengthening consumer demand for clean label food products. This trend limits the use of food additives. This presents both threats and opportunities for natural food additive suppliers in developing countries.

More and more often, European consumers look for clean label food products. Consumers consider clean label products to be safer, healthier and more natural. As a result, food and drink companies are reformulating their products. They are removing ingredients thought of as artificial and unhealthy.

The food company Mondelēz has committed to removing artificial colours and flavours from its brands. Kellogg’s and Campbell’s will also remove artificial colours and flavours from all their products.

COVID-19 and eating habits

Last year, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) carried out the 2020 Health & Food Survey. The survey shows that COVID-19 has influenced eating and food preparation habits for 85% of consumers. The pandemic has increased demand for clean label food products. Consumers were the most interested in labels such as ‘natural’ and ‘no artificial’.

European Union regulations allow seaweed extracts such as carrageenan and agar agar as food additives. Still, people have criticised these ingredients in recent years because of safety concerns. Research has also shown that consumers are cautious of artificial sweeteners. These developments may decrease demand for food additives on the European market.

Demand for clean label products

We expect consumer demand for clean label food products to continue in the coming years. Exporters of natural additives should take advantage of this. But, they should also keep in mind that this trend limits the use of some food additives. It may affect demand for seaweed extracts. This creates risks for exporters in developing countries. Seaweed extract exporters should communicate the safety of their food additives to European buyers. They should also make sure that their technical documentation is well organised.

Reading tips

CBI provides information on exporting natural food additives to Europe. This includes studies about exporting:

Ecovia Intelligence wrote this news article for CBI.

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