CHICAGO — Good news for consumer packaged goods companies: A new study from The NPD Group reveals many consumers agree clean eating may include packaged and processed foods. Sixty-one per cent of primary grocery shoppers find packaged foods are acceptable when eating clean, and 44% said some processing is okay.
The study, which surveyed more than 5,000 consumers to measure the impact of clean eating on consumption and shopping behaviors, found 80% of clean eaters consider clean eating a lifestyle rather than a diet or fad. Of most importance to individuals who identify as clean eaters are foods that do not contain chemicals, preservatives, additives or pesticides.
Core followers of clean eating represent only 5% of primary grocery shoppers. However clean eating may have more staying power than traditional diets because consumers view it as a lifestyle, said NPD, which noted some consumers already may follow clean eating guidelines without knowing it. Additionally, half of clean eaters have been following the clean eating lifestyle for more than a year, suggesting it can be sustained and may grow in the coming decades, the study suggested.
|Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for NPD
“Clean eating from a product development standpoint may seem discouraging for C.P.G. manufacturers,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for NPD. “But the good news is packaged goods can still fit the bill with these consumers and attract them to the center of the store.”
Recent innovations from leading food companies were designed to appeal to consumers following a clean eating lifestyle. The J.M. Smucker Co., Orrville, Ohio, has introduced a number of product offerings with simple ingredients, including Smucker brand natural food spreads, fruit and honey spreads, and Fruit-Fulls blended fruit pouches, and Pillsbury Purely Simple brownie, cake, cookie and frosting mixes.
At the Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., work is under way to remove artificial colors and flavors from nearly all North American products by the end of fiscal 2018. Reformulation efforts will include simplifying the recipes of existing condensed soups for children by removing such ingredients as monosodium glutamate, preservatives, artificial colors and artificial flavors.
Minneapolis-based General Mills is moving to eliminate artificial flavors and colors from fruit-flavored snacks and cereals in the coming years. The Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., not only has pledged to remove artificial colors and flavors from cereals, snack bars and Eggo frozen products, but also this year launched a new product line called Kellogg’s Origins, which is a range of cereals, granola and mueslis made with simple ingredients.
Nestle S.A., Vevey, Switzerland, this year also announced plans to remove certain artificial ingredients from chocolate candy products, powdered drink mixes, frozen pizzas, entrees and snacks.“For decades, you’d always hear some consumers talking about no artificial colors, no artificial flavor,” Jeff Hamilton, president of Nestle’s prepared foods division, toldFood Business Newsin July. “That’s not completely new, but in terms of really getting scale and momentum behind it, that’s a relatively new and recent phenomenon in the last two to three years, and you see us now responding with the products we’re putting on the market.”