Today, there is increased demand for clean ingredient labels for both human and pet food. But, do you really understand what a clean label is?
A 'clean label' is a list of ingredients that consumers can clearly understand and pronounce. The consumer has a clear idea or understanding of where the ingredients come from. For example, pet foods that are labeled containing mono or diglycerides instead of rice extracts can mislead consumers. The name is too technical and does not tell the origin story.
Consumers are the most important people in the retail chain. With the internet available, they are aware of the ingredients available in their pet food, so they know exactly what to look for. Today, pet food manufacturers must meet consumer demand for clean labels. In the 1980s, add the 1990s, there were a lot of chemistry lab names on the ingredient list.
Today, pet food manufacturers are looking for where they can get the same functionality but from a natural source. Some manufacturers have even banned the artificial colors, flavors and preservatives that define what is considered a clean label. Consumers are the main players when deciding what should be included and excluded from the ingredient list. Ingredient processors and suppliers are collaborating to meet quality and still consider consumer standards when formulating the clean label.
The rating of what is considered a clean label is driven by the consumer. For some, a clean label is an all-natural product with no artificial additives or preservatives or it can be a limited ingredient diet or an ingredient that can be pronounced. Many complete and balanced pet foods on the market today reflect different perceptions of what pet parents believe to be a clean label product. Pet owners consider all formulas that include all-natural preservatives, non-grain carbohydrate sources, non-GMO ingredients, natural colors and flavors, limited ingredient diets, protein sources without by-products, and organic ingredients as a clean label.
The humanization of the pet food industry is the latest trend nowadays. Food and beverage production focuses on health. Almost all current pet food launches use health positioning to get more consumer attention.
If you are interested, you will notice phrases like 'natural', 'organic' 'no additives', 'GMO free' from pet companies on their releases. There is also a huge 'free' pet food trend claiming to produce grain-free and gluten-free pet products. Interest in grain-free pet foods has been a trend, while other consumers feel that exotic grain pet foods are healthier.
The most popular marketing catches in the pet industry include protein content, vitamin and mineral fortification, digestive/gut health, omega-3 fatty acids, and skin health. Additionally, consumers have shown interest in pet foods for specific ages, health conditions, and activity levels.
Customers seek full transparency
The demand for ingredients that meet pet owners' preferences has provided the pet industry with an opportunity to innovate and meet requirements.
Today, pet food manufacturers have faced the challenge of providing natural alternatives that are equal to and just as effective as synthetic ingredients. To do this, they have adopted certified and verified non-GMO ingredients. Clean labels have been a major player in the food and beverage industry. The same is happening today in the pet industry.
Research shows that customers are willing to switch from their regular brands to a new product that provides detailed information about the product that appears on the label. In other words, customers have shown a clear desire for true transparency on pet food labels. Food manufacturers have already taken note.