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Keeping it clean: How can manufacturers embrace the clean label movement?
Phoebe Fraser

Phoebe Fraser

10 July 2024

Keeping it clean: How can manufacturers embrace the clean label movement?

In a world where transparency is paramount and simplicity is prized, the clean label revolution is transforming the F&B industry. Gone are the days of obscure ingredient lists and synthetic compounds – nowadays, consumers seek honesty and authenticity in every product they consume. From snacks and condiments to dairy and beverages, every aspect of production is experiencing the influence of this movement towards cleaner, more transparent labels. FoodBev Media explores.

In response to growing consumer demand for transparency, the concept of clean labelling has emerged as a beacon of clarity amidst a sea of confusion. ‘Clean label’ is more than a trendy buzzword; it represents a commitment to honesty and authenticity in product formulation.

By simplifying ingredient lists and eliminating artificial additives, clean labels enable consumers to make informed choices about the products they purchase. This trend towards transparency fosters trust between consumers and manufacturers while driving innovation in ingredient sourcing and formulation/reformulation techniques.

“Research has shown that 78% of global consumers are willing to pay more for foods and beverages with ‘natural’ or ‘all-natural’ claims, highlighting the growing demand for clean label products...” Constantin Drapatz, Ingredion’s senior marketing manager for clean and simple food ingredients EMEA, told FoodBev.

The right texture, the right label

“Another trend shaping clean label ingredient innovation is the rise of plant-based diets and flexitarianism,” Drapatz added. “Consumers are increasingly seeking out plant-based alternatives to traditional dairy and meat products, but they don’t want to compromise on taste, texture or nutrition.”

Ingredion’s clean label range includes functional native starches, flours, fibres, plant-based proteins and naturally derived sweeteners, each developed to provide specific benefits across a wide range of applications.

In February, Ingredion expanded its line of clean label texturizers with Novation Indulge 2940, a non-GMO functional native corn starch that provides a unique texture for gelling and co-texturizing for dairy/alt-dairy products and desserts.

“It’s an important ingredient for manufacturers that are creating clean label dairy alternatives as it rivals the sensory experience of traditional dairy products,” Drapatz commented. “This unique, functional native starch addresses formulation challenges often encountered in plant-based dairy, such as achieving multiple texture benefits like gelling, spreadability, meltability and creaminess, while also maintaining stability throughout shelf life.”

Novation Indulge 2940 creates a gelled texture with a soft set that still allows for melting. “This is particularly valuable in plant-based cheese and cream cheese formulations, where achieving the right texture with the right label is crucial for consumer acceptance,” said Drapatz.

Arla Foods Ingredients’ Nutrilac functional milk protein solutions are designed to enhance the sensory qualities of various dairy products, including yogurts, fermented desserts, dairy-based beverages and cheese. These solutions allow manufacturers to eliminate the need for other texture-enhancing ingredients in their recipes.

“Creating tailored dairy textures is complicated and often a balancing act,” explained Katrine Helene Fruergaard Holm, global industry marketing manager at Arla Foods Ingredients. “Milk proteins can be a highly effective tool, but you need the right technical know-how to control and optimise their natural water-binding and gelling properties.”

She continued: “One of the things that really makes Nutrilac unique is its ability to control viscosity. It enables manufacturers to go high with protein content, while maintaining a consistency that appeals to consumers.”

Nutrilac provides manufacturers with the capability to maintain low viscosity and excellent water-binding properties. These qualities play a crucial role in preserving the quality of fermented dairy products over their shelf life. Additionally, Nutrilac can improve visual appeal, giving an attractive shine to products such as cream cheese, and facilitate the creation of bake-stable textures, which is particularly useful for dairy products that require heating.

Starch city

Ingredient giant Tate & Lyle offers a comprehensive clean label starch range called Claria. This line of functional ingredients is labelled as ‘starch’ but performs similarly to modified starches.

“Starches help make production more efficient by enhancing a product’s tolerance to various types of industrial processing. They enable resistance to high shear and temperatures, extend shelf life, and create desirable textures and mouthfeel,” Coralie Faliz, Tate & Lyle’s innovation lead for texturants and mouthfeel, told FoodBev.

“In the past, food manufacturers had to use modified food starches to achieve these functional needs. But today, clean label starches like Claria have the same functionality as modified starches.”

Claria starches offer both thickening and gelling capabilities, carefully formulated to enhance shelf life and process resistance. They contribute to creating appealing textures and functionalities across a wide range of applications.

The corn-based starches can be used in products such as beverages, soups, sauces and dressings, providing benefits such as creaminess in yogurts, thickness in soups or crispiness in snacks.

“Our functional clean label starches leverage Claria technology, a proprietary innovation known for enhancing sensory attributes, particularly maintaining a neutral colour compared to other functional clean label starches,” Faliz added. “Our upcoming Claria G line introduces advancements in production processes, resulting in a remarkable 34% reduction in carbon footprint and a 35% decrease in water usage.”

Baked to perfection

Novonesis, the result of the merger between Chr. Hansen and Novozymes last year, has developed Novamyl BestBite, an enzymatic solution aimed at enhancing the fresh texture and extending the shelf life of baked goods.

“It is a game-changing new molecule that delivers a soft, resilient texture, improves freshness after baking for longer and allows sugar reduction in bakery products,” David Bueno, technical sales specialist for Foodology by Univar Solutions, based in the EMEA region, told FoodBev.

He added: “Moreover, it diminishes reliance on emulsifiers, enabling cost efficiencies for formulators, decreasing food waste and stale returns in the supply chain, and facilitating recipe optimisation by reducing added sugar and yeast without compromising the taste of products”.

Ulrick & Short, a provider of clean label ingredients, has released Ovaprox, a formulation for egg reduction that enabled bakers to save on costs. Marketing manager, Robert Lambert, highlighted the sourcing diversity of the Ovaprox range from various base crops. “This approach is crucial,” he emphasised, “as there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution to egg replacement.”

The sweet bakery category stands out as a key area for egg reduction, yet it poses technical challenges due to the multifunctional role eggs play in bakery applications. Eggs contribute to stability, emulsification, texture and volume, making their reduction a complex endeavour.

“To achieve effective egg replacement, it’s essential to thoroughly grasp the specific application, processing methods and the exact requirements for the replacement,” Lambert noted. “This understanding enables us to recommend solutions that effectively mimic egg across various applications.”

The company’s Ovaprox 14 ingredient offers aeration properties akin to whipped egg whites, enabling the creation of stable foam for applications like plant-based meringues.

With egg prices on the rise and sustainability taking centre stage for manufacturers, there is a noticeable drive to minimise the use of ingredients with a substantial carbon footprint. This shift underscores the increasing significance of alternatives like Ovaprox, which are wellpositioned to effectively meet industry demands.

Sweetness, sans sugar

Last year, global foodtech company DouxMatok rebranded to Incredo – a new name based on the company’s signature product, Incredo Sugar.

Incredo Sugar is a clean label solution that can reduce the amount of sugar in sweet foods by 30-50%, all while maintaining taste, mouthfeel and texture, with no additional entries required on the ingredients label.

“Incredo Sugar G2 maintains sweetness levels and sensory appeal in products by enhancing the efficiency of sucrose delivery to the sweet taste receptors, resulting in a higher concentration of sucrose and enhanced sweetness perception with less sugar,” Incredo’s co-CEO and commercial lead, Kelly Thompson, elaborated.

"Made from real sugar and a protein, Incredo Sugar G2 preserves the taste profile of sugar without compromising texture or introducing off flavours. Utilising a unique technology that blends and dries sugar and protein, it forms sugar clusters that dissolve faster in saliva, creating a perception of higher sugar concentration in the food.”

In the RTD beverage category, Kerry has developed several clean label ingredients for taste modulation as part of its Tastesense line.

Tastesense Advanced solutions enable the creation of low- and zero-sugar products without compromising on sweetness. This alternative to sugar or stevia, containing plant-derived materials, addresses sweetness optimisation and can reduce sugar by more than 50% in beverages.

Also in Kerry’s portfolio is Tastesense Sensations, created to meet increasing consumer demand for low- and no-alcohol beverages. This solution brings alcoholic sensations – such as burning, cooling, lubrication and mouthfeel – to low ABV products, mimicking alcohol perception and stimulating warming, cooling and tingling sensations.

On the right snack

International agricultural cooperative Limagrain produces a range of clean label solutions, including its Innosense brand of functional flours. These heat-treated wheat, maize, chickpea, rice and masa flours offer numerous benefits, such as starch and gum replacement, hydration gain, cost reduction, and fibre and protein enrichment, all while maintaining a natural flour declaration.

“Our Innosense functional flours undergo a heat-treatment process that results in starch pregelatinisation, enhancing the viscosity of the flours,” Emmanuel Goujon, CEO of Limagrain, told FoodBev. “This viscosity ensures texturizing properties in the functional flours. Additionally, the heat-treatment process brings positive functionalities, including stability during shelf life and improvements in sensory properties.”

Limagrain’s masa flours are specially crafted for use in tortilla chips and other crispy snacks. The company is set to introduce Innosense Masa Plus this month, a new iteration of masa flour.

“Innosense Masa Plus has characteristics adjusted specifically to optimise the manufacturing of tortilla chips – it decreases oil absorption during the frying stage and suits the UK’s non-HFSS (high in fat, salt or sugar) regulation,” Goujon stated.

In the condiments, sauces and dressings sector, CP Kelco has a robust line-up of clean label ingredients designed to assist manufacturers in meeting consumer demand for transparency. The company’s inaugural upcycled ingredient, Nutrava Citrus Fiber, derived from citrus peels, boosts dietary fibre intake while also enhancing water-binding, texturizing, emulsion stabilisation, syneresis control and mouthfeel in condiments, sauces and dressings.

Formulators have the flexibility to adjust usage levels to achieve diverse viscosity profiles based on their recipes and preferences. Additionally, the ingredient serves as a substitute for sugar and oil in various recipes.

Charlene Wilding, CP Kelco’s sales and technical service manager, said: “Nutrava Citrus Fiber was developed to support the need for simpler product development without compromising on the eating experience. It can help formulators do more with a shorter ingredient deck, while also utilising a certified upcycled ingredient made from citrus peels, a byproduct of the juice industry near our facility, supporting sustainability credentials.”

She continued: “Leftovers from our citrus peel production process are turned into fertiliser and animal feed for nearby farms”.

As consumers increasingly demand transparency and authenticity, innovative solutions like the ones highlighted here are paving the way towards a healthier, more sustainable future. From dairy to snacks and everything in between, the clean label movement isn’t just a trend – it represents a commitment to honesty in every bite.

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