DUIVEN, THE NETHERLANDS — The confectionery industry is increasingly moving toward simpler labeling as the result of an increased level of interest in natural products, according to Innova Market Insights.

Innova said 9.5% of all confectionery launches during the year ended September 2012 used either natural or additive/preservative-free claims or both. As a result, it was the most popular health claim overall, ahead of sugar-free/low-sugar/no-added sugar and organic and low fat.

Interest in additive-/preservative-free claims have been much higher in more developed markets, especially in the United States and Western Europe, where they account for 16% and 15% of total confectionery introductions, respectively.

“Looking at levels of new product activity, this seems set to continue, not only in the introduction of new clean label lines, but perhaps more significantly in the reformulation of existing market-leading brands to meet clean label criteria,” said Lu Ann Williams, research manager.

Sugar confectionery and chocolate both featured a similar number of launches using natural and additive-or preservative-free claims, but their influence was more significant for sugar confectionery, which accounted for more than 15% of total launches compared with 9% for chocolate.

The increased use of stevia also has been helping increase the demand for clean label confectionery. Confectionery launches using stevia have risen dramatically, more than quadrupling during a one-year period.