Labelling: keeping it clean

Labelling: keeping it clean

(Posted on 12/06/17)

Clean label is a term that should be simple and straightforward in its meaning, yet in today’s market it’s often anything but. Health minded consumers continue to search for the so-called clean label when it comes to food and drink products. But what does it actually stand for? And how do consumers view the term? 

Consumers are looking for goods which only use natural ingredients and no added preservatives. 

Cornelius believes the term ‘clean label’ can be broken down in to four key terms: nature, simplicity, transparency and processing. 


For consumers, the closer to nature an ingredient or product is, the ‘cleaner’ it is perceived to be. People do not want to be confronted with too many ingredients when reading the label and the ones mentioned should be as close to their natural form as possible and easy to understand.


It comes down to simplicity. In the eyes of the consumer, this means less chemical-sounding foodstuffs and more cupboard friendly ingredients. Simplicity and familiarity count with consumers who are looking for ingredients they recognise and may have at home. 

According to Mintel research, 80 per cent of consumers say it is important that they recognise all ingredients listed on their food and drink packaging.


For consumers, it’s about transparency, with many wanting brands to be open and honest about where and how their products are made, what ingredients are in them and how these ingredients are produced. 

Brands are pledging simplicity and authenticity but there’s still a disconnect between consumers and labels. Clear, transparent labels that speak the language of the consumer are what’s needed. Consumers want to trust a brand, with the key influencing factors lying in ingredient transparency, provenance and reputation. 


Not only are natural, simplistic and honest ingredients important to a clean label, but how a food is processed also plays a part. The more processing that is involved, the less clean the product is perceived to be. The clean label term therefore extends beyond the ingredients list. Consumers like to know about a brand’s production process, as part of the overall clean label story. Many companies are therefore today including their processing methods in on-pack communications.

Meeting clean-label demand

 As the industry continues to focus on clean labelling, brands and retailers continue to demand ingredients innovation, adding additional functionality, taste and texture benefits to products.

A good example of where delivering clean labelling, whilst meeting product innovation requirements has been achieved, is Cornelius' recent news that it has teamed up with New Holland Extraction Ltd., who produce Bettergerm™, a high quality 100 per cent British de-fatted wheat germ. Bettergerm contains 30 per cent protein, 14 per cent fibre, and many nutritional vitamins, minerals and healthy oils. Suitable for bakery, cereal production and snacks, it is a versatile and functional ingredient. 

Bettergerm is made from the heart of the wheat grain and is produced through a unique process, which not only retains all the natural goodness and flavour of the high quality wheat germ, it also creates a product which is virtually fat free with an increased shelf life of 12 months.

Bettergerm answers today's demand for grain-based foods that are low in fat and high in fibre and protein. The product is rich in natural nutrients and full of flavour, making it ideal for today’s exciting bakery category.

Formulating healthier foods 

Cornelius also works with CEAMSA, who has developed a multi-functional citrus fibre that helps processors address consumers’ two greatest areas of interest: healthier foods and clean labels.

Derived from citrus peel, Ceamfibre has high insoluble fibre content. As a result, this versatile fibre offers many functional and nutritional benefits. In bakery products, it helps reduce both fat and cholesterol content without decreasing product appeal. Moreover, bakers can increase fibre content with a healthful, clean label source rather than an additive in the ingredients list.

The main reason for its technological functionality is its high water-binding capacity. Ceamfibre can bind water up to 10 times its weight and it also can bind oil up to four times its weight. It can also act as a fat replacer in baked goods. In fact, up to 50 per cent of the fat content can be replaced in muffins by a fibre-water solution. 

 Clean label: the requirement

The way people think about food is changing. The industry is reformulating products in line with evolving clean label needs, enhancing their image and meeting the needs of ever more curious consumers who are looking more closely at what goes into their food and drink. However, new product development must also address all the traditional functional requirements of food and beverage recipe development to ensure the industry does not revert to the problems of the past.