Various yellow hard candy

Clean label is the top trend in 2017

The clean label trend continues to establish itself in the North American sugar confectionery market.* It’s a natural consequence of what Innova Marketing calls Clean Supreme, the top F&B trend in 2017. According to Innova, the trend for clean and clear labeling has become a standard as consumers want to understand the food they are eating in every way.

Natural Color promotion stickers

Front-of-pack claims

Claims are a proven way to increase transparency and help consumers make informed choices. In the sugar confectionery and gum category, the claim used most often in the last 12 months was “No Additives/Preservatives;” this appeared on 12% of all product launches (Mintel, 2017).  That’s not surprising, when for example, 39% of Canadian confectionery eaters cite that they look for products with all-natural ingredients and no artificial additives. According to Mintel, approximately 40% of all sugar confectionery pack launches make use of “Minus,”  “Natural” or “Free from” claims.*

While the total number has been fairly consistent over the past 5 years, there is a slight downward tendency in “Minus’ claims and a correlating upward tendency in ‘Natural” claims.

Sugar confectionery graph
Sugar confectionery and gum innovation North America, Mar 2012 – Feb 2017 showing change in the use of claims in product launches (Source: Mintel, 2017)

Marketing Claims must not Risk Litigation 

The fact that “Natural” claims are increasing indicates that food manufacturers have better insight into their ingredients, and feel comfortable making an “All Natural Ingredients” or “Organic” claim. Unfortunately, there is no clear definition of these claims, which has forced manufacturers to make their own definitions and interpretation of the law. To avoid risking litigation, many manufacturers choose to err on the safe side, for example by interpreting “All natural ingredients” to mean that the ingredients used to make their ingredients must also be natural or from a natural source. It sounds obvious that a vegetable juice concentrate used for color in organic food must be standardized with organic apple juice concentrate instead of invert sugar, but since it’s not listed on ingredient lists, manufacturers must do their research to be sure.

In the same way, GMO-free claims need to be traceable throughout the entire value chain.

USDA Good for you stamp

Well-defined Organic Claim regulations

Organic is growing in importance, even in sugar confectionery and gum. Organic claims increased 300% in the year ending Feb 2017 (6%) compared to the prior year (2%), albeit from a small base.* Organic is getting a boost from consumers’ scrutiny of how foods are made as well as due to their concern for animal welfare. “Organic” claims are easier to navigate than “Natural” claims because they are defined by the USDA:

Organic (100%) all ingredients must be fully organic certified

Organic (95%) all agricultural ingredients are certified organic, except where specified on the National List, and non-organic ingredients are allowed per the National List, up to a combined total of 5%. Use of USDA –organic logo allowed

Made with Organic (70%) foods are products which contain at least 70% organic ingredients and may contain up to 30% non-organic ingredients. Use of USDA –organic logo NOT allowed

Organic 95% and Organic 70% products are allowed to be colored with organic compliant colors, also called NOP (Non-Organic ally Produced). NOP lists colors and other ingredients that may be included in organic production/products if in compliance with the National list.** Those colors must not be produced using synthetic solvents and carrier systems or any artificial preservative.

Chr. Hansen has several color ranges to fit your confectionery formulation strategy:

  • NOP-compliant vegetable juice concentrates for your organic launches. The vegetable juice is based on fruit and vegetable concentrates that are NOP-compliant and are free from preservatives, artificial ingredients and invert sugar. 
  • Coloring foods which can support your “All Natural ingredients” or “Colored with fruit & vegetable” claims
    Natural colors, which can support your “Colored with natural colors”  or “No artificial colors” claim

*Mintel, Category Insight: Sugar Confectionery & Gum (2017)
**The list of non organically produced (NOP) colors allowed in organic foods can be found in 7 CFR §205.606. It is a list of selective pigments produced without using synthetic solvents and carrier systems or any artificial preservative (7 CFR §205.605).

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