We all know that product packaging can have a colossal impact on brand awareness and overall sales. But these days, it may not be enough to have bold, engaging prime labels to attract customers. As more consumers look for more natural products on store shelves, the clean label trend continues to gain traction due to the increased level of transparency and emphasis on wholesome authenticity.

But what exactly are clean labels and why might food and beverage companies benefit from using them? And how are they impacting the industry as a whole? We’ll discuss these points in today’s post.

What are clean labels?

While clean labels have been around for quite a while, they’ve really starting to gain traction more recently. These types of food and beverage labels tie in to the clean eating movement, but they are mainly used on products that are all-natural and contain no artificial preservatives or flavors. The idea behind these type of adhesive labels: if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you probably shouldn’t be eating or drinking them.

Do consumers like this type of label?

Research has found that customers want to know what exactly is in their food and drinks so that they can make informed decisions. After all, nearly half of the 64% of consumers who say they see nutrition labeling on menus and placemats in restaurants say they use this information often or at least some of the time. That same concept has made its way into food and beverage labels.

Tribe, one of the nation’s leading brands of hummus, found that “consumers’ purchase decisions are more influenced by ingredients (30%) and flavor (34%) and those ingredients focused on all-natural or no artificial preservatives,” according to the company’s VP in Marketing. The brand has subsequently relaunched as a clean label, removing all artificial preservatives and switching to a non-GMO canola oil. Clean branding is especially popular amongst millennials, according to data.

That said, clean labeling can be confusing for businesses and consumers alike; buzzwords like “clean,” “simple,” and “natural” have sometimes been used in misleading ways. Most customers are familiar with clean label products, but the majority don’t actually know what it means. Several recent surveys have discovered that as many as 80% of consumers don’t really know what “clean label” constitutes, but the idea is still appealing to the average customer.

How are clean labels impacting the industry?

These types of food and beverage labels are becoming incredibly popular. Just turn on your TV or walk down the aisle of your local grocery store. You’ll likely see many more options for non-processed, more “natural” foods than were available in the past. Companies are making pledges to remove artificial ingredients from their products, much to the delight of the average customer. Even if they didn’t realize these items contained unnatural ingredients before, they may now be more likely to buy the product because these items are seen as more healthful.

Still, this issue is complex because there really isn’t a legal definition pertaining to clean label product packaging or ingredients. There are certain things most organizations agree shouldn’t be included in products with clean labels, but there aren’t necessarily set rules for it. It’s more about customer perception than it is scientific data or regulations.

To ensure product identification is truly accurate and transparent, the Food Marketing Institute recommends that brands provide clear information about their product to let consumers judge for themselves, rather than trying to appeal to a customer’s desire for sustainability and healthiness without actually practicing what they preach. Ultimately, brands should want to appeal to the health-conscious, repeat customer because of the natural ingredients their products actually contain, rather than using a hot new term to try to encourage an impulse, one-time buy.


Clean food and beverage labels put the focus on simple, authentic ingredients and provide the customer with useful information. To find out more about how this type of labeling could work for your business, contact us today.