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Keeping It Simple Is Not a Simple Proposition

BY: Mary Ellen Kuhn
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Stephanie MattucciSimple is in, and natural—at least in terms of specific natural claims—appears to be on the way out, Mintel global food science analyst Stephanie Mattucci told IFT16 attendees in a presentation at the Mintel Booth (4953) on Monday.

“It [natural] is still an attribute that consumers are looking for,” Mattucci said. “But we see products evolving in terms of their natural positioning.” The use of a natural claim on products peaked about two years ago when it appeared on 15% of product introductions, Mattucci said. It’s now down to just 11%.

Meanwhile, what does resonate are products with short, simple ingredient statements. Mattucci shared Mintel data that shows 53% of consumers worry quite a bit about potentially harmful ingredients in their food. And 59% of those Mintel surveyed agree that the fewer ingredients a product contains, the healthier it is. “Less is more,” said Mattucci. “In an effort to cope with information overload, consumers are retreating back to simple, easy-to-understand ingredients.”

“Simple ingredients are also being used to emphasize both quality and nutrition,” she continued. It’s a positioning that works on artisan products but also on mainstream brands like the new Post Organic Purple Corn Flakes.

Mintel presentationRather than making natural claims, food companies are focusing more on claims around genetic modification, no additives/no preservatives, and “free from.” No additives/no preservatives claims appeared on 21% of products introduced in the United States, Mattucci reported. That’s likely to be an effective strategy because new Mintel research shows that no additives/no preservatives claims have a positive impact on purchase intent. Free from claims also have considerable traction with consumers; 86% of those aged 25–34 say they purchased a product with a free from claim.

Genetically modified (GM) foods are also a significant hot button; 39% of consumers say they purchase GM-free foods. Of course, it’s not always a purchase influencer. Mattucci noted that when Mars added language stating that its M&Ms were “partially produced with genetic engineering,” it didn’t trigger any negative comments among consumers Mintel surveyed.

Mintel’s series of trend presentations will continue on Tuesday, according to the following schedule.

10 a.m. Innovating for the iGeneration
10:30 a.m.  Senior Solutions: Developing Products for the Aging Consumer
11 a.m.    The Value Paradox: The Challenge of Creating Products for the Budget Consumer
11:30 a.m.  Expert Q&A Panel on Consumers
12 p.m. What Does Product Innovation Really Look Like?
12:30 p.m.  Charting Flavor Expansion and Innovation
1 p.m.  Helping Consumers Cook Dinner: Innovation in Meals and Meal Kits
1:30 p.m.  Expert Q&A Panel on Product Innovation
2 p.m.    ‘Simple’ Isn’t So Simple
2:30 p.m.  Free-From for All: Alternatives Are Ready for the Spotlight
3 p.m.    From the Inside Out: The Embrace of Ingredients as Superheroes
3:30 p.m. Expert Q&A Panel on Ingredients and Claims

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