Innovate Blog
You are what you eat, but what are you eating? – The trend for clean labelling

Tuesday January 3, 2017

It has long been said that ‘you are what you eat’, and although a little over simplistic, the phrase encompasses the theory that a healthy and happy life can often be attributed to the food that you consume.

The question “what’s on your plate today?” sounds simple, but do you actually know what are you consuming and what truly goes into each part of every meal that you eat?

The answer for many is no. It’s unlikely that you’re deliberately avoiding being informed, often it’s just that you’re not being presented with the information in a way that’s clear and transparent, or even that the information isn’t available to you, the consumer, at all.

Ingredients solution company, Ingredion, has found that the number of consumers who see the ingredient list as very important has risen by 3% between 2011 and 2013 to 78%, and it’s now the second most important factor when choosing a product, after price. Research by Mintel has also found that rather than the relatively intangible claim of being ‘good for the environment,’ the new priority is transparency. This is creating consumers who want to know more about ingredients, products and even the companies that make and sell the food they are consuming.

But it’s not just those who want to know more that are being affected, some consumers need to know exactly what goes into their meals due to allergies, intolerances and for religious or health reasons.

Luckily, the Food Information Regulations (FIR), governed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) here in the UK, provide legislation that food operators need to abide by. From the introduction of mandatory allergen information being required on food packaging and labels in 2014, through to the recent FIR update in December 2016 requiring nutritional information to be displayed on all pre-packed food; transparency is becoming a must for all food operators.

More than just the details legally required, consumers are increasingly looking for information about whether ingredients have been sustainably grown and/or produced locally. Food origin is quickly becoming a purchase factor with 35% of consumers seeking out local products.

Although genetically modified ingredients are required to be declared as part of FIR, chemicals and other seemingly ‘unknown’ ingredients, such as additives, may not be. Consumers are struggling to trust the information displayed on food packaging and labels as buzz words like ‘natural’, ‘healthy’ and ‘eco’ are often thrown around without clear evidence.

The trend for clean labelling is taking over, and more than just another buzz term in the foodservice industry, “clean label” refers to consumers’ desire for straightforward food labelling that lists exactly which ingredients are, and are not, in the product. Clean labels represent natural ingredients with no artificial additives and chemicals. For true clean labelling to exist, the benefits of the product should be communicated and the sourcing of ingredients and manufacturing processes should be transparent.

At Bunzl Catering Supplies we supply operators with food packaging labels designed to fit the latest packaging and disposables in the marketplace, along with an exclusive online label printing solution called Caterlabel. Printed via Caterlabel and applied to packaging, food packaging labels are a highly effective way of displaying food information in a clear and concise way for food on-the-go, providing customers with the knowledge to make informed choices about what they eat.

With increased transparency on your food packaging labels your customers will now be able to answer the question “what’s on your plate today?”