Naturalness is a key consideration for industry

Consumer demand for ‘more natural’ foods and beverages continues to grow – and food manufacturers are responding by highlighting naturally-derived ingredients and the natural credentials of new products, according to UK-based market research firm, RTS (Research to Solutions).

The company says that synthetic colours and flavours are still more popular with food and beverage developers than natural varieties, but the trend for natural products has entered the mainstream.

“Concerns over artificial ingredients, a growing desire for a return to the perceived simpler times of the past and pressure from major retailers have turned naturalness into a key consideration for food and drink manufacturers and ingredient suppliers,” the researcher notes.

It adds that manufacturers looking to tap into the trend should promote the natural origins of their ingredients, naming the specific region if possible – and there are also opportunities for ingredient suppliers to extend the reach of their products into other markets and product categories as demand for naturalness grows.

From the named food (FTNF) flavours are one example of this, and the researcher highlighted Treatt’s new FTNF ingredient derived from jalapeño peppers. [Under SA’s new labelling regulations, natural flavourants and colourants cannot use the ‘natural’ descriptor.]

Suntory_natural_provenance_drinkMeanwhile, Japanese beverage company Suntory has launched a new range of traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage Chu-hai, flavoured with natural ingredients. The Kodawari Kajuen no Osake range states the origin of the fruit flavours on product cans, naming the specific orchard or vineyard where the fruit is grown: white peaches from Furuya orchard in Yamanashi, white grapes from Kitazawa vineyard in Nagano and Setouchi lemons from Miyamoto orchard in Hiroshima.

“Proving an ingredient’s provenance is a powerful way of endorsing its natural credentials,” says RTS.

According to market research organisation Mintel, the percentage of global product launches carrying a ‘natural’ claim – including no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives, or additives – increased from 26% of new launches in 2005 to over a third in 2009.

The natural trend is among those due to be highlighted in an upcoming RTS report, “SuperTrends: Flavour Trends”

Additional reading:

Healthy and natural steer soft drinks to success

The future for natural and health ingredients

‘Naturality’ will be the top trend in 2012, says New Nutrition Business

Purity, authenticity, sustainability among top food trends for 2012