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Five successful examples of clean label food innovation and how you can do it too

This blog is the second of the “1-2-Taste healthy food making” series which address (high) protein products’ challenges, personalised nutrition, and much more.
In this second article, we explore the clean label trend and share some ingredients inspirations for the R&D teams that want to create the next generation of nourishing products.

But first of all, what are clean label products and why should you focus on them?

The term “clean label” has become a buzzword in the industry, appealing to consumers who favour products that are made with mostly natural ingredients, are minimally processed, free from unwanted additives, and have short labels, which are easy to understand. Food Navigator predicts a 6.75 % projected CAGR of the global clean label market (2021-2026). According to Mintel, 46 % of UK consumers associate clean label products with “good for you” and 24 % with “highly nutritious”. Clean labels were initially used to preserve health and safety, but lately they have increasingly been used to identify solutions at the intersection between health and sustainability trends.

Are you curious to learn from successful clean label products innovations?

Clean label fruit and veg

Natural clean label soup formulation

A leading global manufacturer of ambient soups has decided to reformulate two ambient soups to transition towards a clean label, focusing on ingredients that are recognisable and trusted. This decision comes in response to evolving consumer preferences in the industry. The technical challenge for achieving a clean label soup recipe includes the elimination of essential flavourings while preserving taste. Proprietary technology was used as a powder solution to enhance the overall eating experience of the ambient soups with umami notes, achieving a delicious and balanced taste. The reformulation allowed the company to declare “vegetable stock” on the label, meeting the consumer demand for a natural and clean label while maintaining the desired taste, aroma impact, and product stability in two appealing ambient soups. Are you also looking to develop a clean label soup? You can try the SVZ vegetables’ purees and concentrates, which are flavourful, rich in micronutrients and 100% natural.

Sweetener replacement: a sourcing issue becomes a clean label opportunity

Pirq Plant-Based RTD Beverages faced a setback in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic due to supply chain disruptions of erythritol. Seeking a solution, Pirq turned to reformulation with the objectives of removing erythritol, maintaining a “no added sugar ” claim, and increasing plant-based protein from 12 to 15g per serving. Addressing various ingredients such as sweeteners, flavour, protein content, and viscosity, Pirq successfully revamped the formulations for a part of their portfolio. The 2022 relaunch achieved the desired goal on sweetness by balancing high quality stevia with vanilla flavour, offering the same high-quality flavour profile and overcoming the previous supply chain disruptions. They represent a great example of how you can transform an ingredient sourcing challenge into a development opportunity. At 1-2-Taste, we are always ready to share ideas on how you can achieve a similar transition to clean label sweeteners: check out the IMAG organic sweeteners range which include a variety of natural and organic sugar alternatives.

Clean label sweetener
Clean label yoghurt

Yoghurt reformulation using starches

To meet the quest of reformulating a popular yoghurt brand as part of a global clean label initiative, a dairy company successfully developed clean label prototypes. These prototypes, maintained the yoghurt’s texture, appearance, and taste while meeting clean label standards. The optimised formulation, featuring starches, specifically addressed the need for viscosity, creaminess, and cost-effectiveness. The final solution, seamlessly integrated into existing production lines, ensured brand consistency for consumers, and showcased the company’s commitment to a clean label among challenging product lines. If you are looking to achieve a satisfying mouthfeel while keeping a clean label, Anderson Advanced Ingredients offers humectants, under the MoisturLOK range, that help manage the moisture content of food products, which consequently extend shelf life.

Clean label cheese without compromise on taste

To meet the demand for healthier and natural foods, a consortium involving FrieslandCampina, VION, and a research partner focused on utilising bacteria through fermentation to produce “clean label” ingredients. The collaborative project successfully reduced salt content in cheese and meat products while preserving flavour. By screening microorganisms’ functionality within various food matrices, scientists optimised flavour development and prevented the outgrowth of pathogenic bacteria. The expertise gained from this approach led to the development and successful market introduction of a low-fat/low-salt cheese.

clean label cheese
clean label ham

Heura launch of additive-free vegan ham

Heura decided to rethink a product normally associated with negative health credentials, like cold cuts, and offer a healthier option that would stand out in the market. The newly developed product contains a solid protein content, 64% protein density (18g of protein per 100g) coming from soy as the key ingredient. Additionally, the ingredients include natural flavourings, salt, radish, carrot, paprika and lemon concentrates, cultures and vitamin B12. The product received a nutriscore B rating, which outperforms other deli slices in the market. But how did they achieve this? They utilise a novel thermomechanical process, which is currently pending patent approval, and could allow the creation of other products with superior nutritional profile. If you are looking to obtain a clean label product through an innovative process, we suggest contacting Food Scientist for Hire, and book a 20 minutes free introduction to learn how they can help you in the process.

What’s next?

The ongoing consumer demand for cleaner and healthier clean label products, coupled with the health and sustainability policy direction in the EU, is a huge opportunity for food manufacturers. However, it’s important to still ensure that flavour and overall consumer experience is not compromised, as taste is a key decision factor for consumers’ choices.

Adopting a clean label strategy has the potential to increase sales, set premium prices, and enhance brand perception for your business, but finding the right ingredients to deliver such products can be a challenge. Do you need support on successfully executing this strategy? Our team has extensive experience in the food and beverage industry and would be glad to assist you in finding the right solution to develop a distinctive clean label recipe that wins in the market.


More on clean label products and ingredients:

→ Infographic: Why clean label matters

→ One pager: Your source of inspiration for clean label ingredients.