Taste will always be the primary driver for consumers when making a food purchase, but a growing number of consumers rank clean label among the top of their priorities. Whether they consider it a way to improve their quality of life or to address specific health and diet concerns, clean label has moved well beyond trend status to become part of our common dietary lexicon.
There isn’t a clear definition of clean eating among consumers and producers, but NPD Group reports that 64% of grocery shoppers consider clean eating synonymous with healthy eating, and fresh items top the list of items considered highly clean and healthy. Fresh vending, one of the most recent food trends, is an area where fresh and healthy converge. Fresh vending is updated refrigerated vending featuring prepared salads, sandwiches, and more, and fresh vending companies rely on label claims that support their customers’ perception of their products as fresh and healthy.
Whole ingredients and ingredients free from artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors are an essential part of fresh vending companies’ position in the market. It is essential for success in the segment to find ways to present “free-from” foods that will also stay fresh throughout the day. In the past, textural and antimicrobial shelf life in baked goods has been extended with ingredients like L-cysteine, DATEM, and others. However, these unrecognizable ingredients must be replaced in clean label applications without compromising the quality of the eating experience, especially in a fresh vending situation where items marketed as “fresh” may be sitting for extended periods before purchase.
According to a February 2019 Technomics report, 58% of fresh vend customers purchase sandwiches, which points to a unique opportunity for bakers to support an emerging segment that 81% of consumers surveyed say is here to stay. Using clean label ESL and DC products —such as Saf-Pro® STAR-ZYME™, Saf-Pro® XtendLife™, and Encore Plus™ —allows bakers to balance antimicrobial and textural shelf life extension while delivering the sensory experience consumers crave from sandwich rolls.
Clean label reformulation goes beyond creating a better product today. It is also an opportunity for brands to connect with emerging trends in the food industry that serve the growing consumer segment that values clean, healthful eating.