The Push for Clean Labels – Replacing Synthetic Ingredients with Botanicals

It’s an unmistakable fact that consumers are becoming more discerning about the ingredients listed on food labels. They are scanning for signs of sugar or other ingredients they now consider “unhealthy”. Just as there is a growing preference towards more selections on organic produce, there is also a growing demand for natural flavoring in other food products.

And that’s where botanicals come into the picture. food_ingredients

Botanicals are substances obtained from plants and they are receiving a lot of attention from food and drink manufacturers looking for new ways to promote their products as “naturally” healthy. According to food industry publication Innova Market Insights, the soft drink market alone saw a 41% increase in launches of products with “botanical” claims in 2016 over the prior year. As if that statistic alone isn’t enough to indicate the botanical trend, ubiquitous Starbucks has jumped on the botanical bandwagon with the introduction of a botanically-infused iced tea drink.

Consumers see botanicals as healthy

Botanicals are attractive to consumers who are increasingly becoming more skeptical of synthetic substances or flavorings whose presence may be technically useful, but no longer looks good on the label (if it ever did). But, replace those artificial substances with spices, flowers, plants, seeds, herbs or some other plant-based botanical ingredient, and suddenly the product takes on an aura of healthiness.

Functional foods are helping drive the popularity of botanicals.

Botanicals are also part of the growing market for functional foods. Such foods are marketed as having potentially positive effects on health beyond basic nutrition. They promote optimal health and help reduce the risk of disease. The development of a water processed “super-spice” turmeric concentrate for smoothies and low alcohol beverages by GNT Group is an example. Another botanical ingredient showing up is protean-rich spirulina, just approved last year as a food coloring.

Making products healthier, keeping up with changing tastes, and concerns about food supply are challenges all food companies face. At Key Corporate Services, our Food Ingredients division specialists are constantly looking for top candidates to assist our industry clients in making the food products that consumers want.

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