The Future of Clean Label

Growing up, Kraft Dinner was a favourite for Canadians. Great taste and it was easy to prepare, especially for an amateur chef like myself. Introduced simultaneously in both Canada and the US in 1937, Canadians consumed 55% more boxes per capita than Americans.[i] I remember when Kraft admitted their iconic product contained synthetic colours. Due to the negative press received, in 2015 Kraft announced the removal of synthetic colours and artificial preservatives. This could be acknowledged as the start of the clean label movement – “the absence of additives, the use of natural ingredients, and environmentally friendly positioning”.[ii] This trend has gained immense popularity – 78% of consumers find it important to recognize the ingredients used in the products they buy.[iii] Given only 44% of global consumers have heard of the term “Clean Label”[iv], and our inflationary food wars, is clean label still trending?

What is the Sales Growth for Clean Label Products?

The U.S clean label food ingredient market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.3% by 2024.[v]

What Do Consumers Think Clean Label Is?

There is no certification process for clean label. Consumers will continue to be responsible for determining what it means to be clean or natural and what the standards will be. As part of the Bakery and Snacks webinar: Is Clean Label Still Trending, those consumers who have heard of the phrase clean label were asked the question listed above.

Their top 5 responses:[vi]

  1. 68%: Products are natural.
  2. 63%: Products contained recognized ingredients.
  3. 61%: I know the origin of the ingredients.
  4. 60%: Products are non-GMO.
  5. 58%: Products are additive-free.

Natural claims need to be tied to direct consumer benefits. As part of the same study undertaken by Bakery and Snacks, 67% of consumers said it is “Important” food and drinks are 100% natural. As for why this “Natural” claim is important,

  1. 62%: Better for the environment.
  2. 60%: Deem the product healthy
  3. 59%: Better for me
  4. 49% Better quality

What Ingredients are Consumers Trying to Avoid?

When choosing a product, most consumers pay attention to price and the nutrition statement, with more than 50% trying to avoid certain ingredients. They include:[vii]

  1. Sugar: 14%
  2. Corn syrup: 13%
  3. Artificial additives: 9%
  4. Artificial sweeteners: 9%
  5. Fructose: 9%

Who is the Clean Label Consumer?

When launching a new product it is essential brands have a distinct target audience. Within the clean label movement, this is even more critical to the brand’s success given 84% of clean label seekers regularly check ingredients as compared to 65% of the population.[viii]

The younger generation has tended to be the main driver of the clean label trend. Millennials and Gen Z tend to be more inclined toward natural, organic, and clean label products. They tend to be highly educated, and may even possess advanced academic degrees. Other demographic influences include those with young children in their households and an annual income of $100,000 or more. They are also eco-conscious, and more than likely to change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.[ix]

What is the Importance of Clean Label for Brands Moving Forward?

While brands that convert to cleaner labels may be able to reap the rewards, those who do not risk being punished. Ingredion’s Global Clean Label Manufacturer research revealed:

  1. 82% of consumers reported a “high likelihood” of switching from brands not offering these claims to new brands that have these benefits.
  2. What’s more: 70% of them, would not only switch but pay more to do so.[x]

What is the Future of Clean Label?

A clean label is the expectation. Demand for simple, natural, and clean label products is showing no signs of slowing, but it is evolving. “Clean label issues will continue to evolve in line with consumer behaviour and trends. Manufacturers that stay connected, listen to, and adapt their products to these changes stand the highest chance of surviving, growing, and remaining competitive in the food and beverage marketplace”[xi]

As you delve into the world of clean label trends and consumer preferences, don’t forget the importance of getting your products listed in the Canadian grocery sector. Food Distribution Guy is here to help small to medium-sized food brands like yours navigate through the complexities of the grocery sector and secure those coveted listings.

With our comprehensive understanding of the Canadian grocery landscape and a commitment to giving your brand the attention it deserves, we’ll work closely with you to achieve your long-term ambitions. Let us be your guide in getting your clean label products into the hands of Canadian consumers.

Don’t wait any longer to take your brand to the next level. Contact Food Distribution Guy today!



[i] Kraft Dinner,

[ii] Clean Label Trends: Global; Market Overview,

[iii] Clean Label Reigns Supreme,

[iv] Is Clean Label Still Trending, Bakery & Snacks, 2024

[v] What Do People Expect from Clean Label Food & Beverages,

[vi] Is Clean Label Still Trending, Bakery & Snacks, 2024

[vii] What Do People Expect from Clean Label Food & Beverages,

[viii] Translating “Clean into Green”, Cargill 2024

[ix] Getting to Know the Clean Label Consumer Profile,

[x] Clean Label Claims Boost Sales, But What Categories Benefit Most,

[xi] The Future of Clean Label Series: Consumer Trends,