KANSAS CITY — Inflation appears to be a headwind for clean label products. Forty-eight percent of respondents in a 2023 survey of US and Canadian consumers from Innova Markets, Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands, said they were moving away from sustainable brands and products because of the current rising prices.

“Affordability and value for money is coming up more and more,” Sophie Cộtê, client success manager for Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands, said in an Aug. 23 Trends and Innovations webinar produced by Food Business News.

Clean label items, however, generally remain a targeted purchase for younger consumers. Innova data show 46% of millennials and 45% of Gen Z said they were willing to pay extra for clean label products, which compared to 31% for Gen X and 19% for baby boomers.

When asked what clean label means, organic was the top choice for millennials and Gen Z. Coming in second was non-GMO for millennials and only natural ingredients for Gen Z. Rated No. 3 was without artificial ingredients for millennials and animal friendly for Gen Z.

The top three answers were the same for baby boomers and Gen X: no additives/preservatives at No. 1, followed by without artificial ingredients at No. 2 and only natural ingredients at No. 3.

“Gen Z and millennials, they feel very similarly but they act completely differently than boomers and Gen X,” Ms. Cộtê said. “For them, health benefits, naturalness and environmental factors are the top three categories.”

Fifty-five percent of millennials said clean label had at least some influence on their buying decisions. They were followed by Gen Z at 54%, Gen X at 44% and baby boomers at 35%.

Clean label is a growing trend in meat substitutes. From the third quarter of 2018 to the second quarter of 2023 in the United States and Canada, clean label claims increased 10% in meat substitutes product launches, and 86% of those launches had non-GMO claims, according to Innova.  

Price remains an obstacle for all clean label products.

“The big talk right now is will price become part of clean label messaging?” Ms. Cộtê said.

Innova data show 60% of respondents said they were looking for simple and more affordable nutritional solutions to meet their needs, and 36% said they expected to spend less on food and beverages in the next 12 months.

“To meet the demand for high nutritional value at the right price, we need innovation to maximize efficiency and yield,” Ms. Cộtê said.

To view Ms. Cộtê’s presentation and the entire Trends and Innovations webinar, click here.