Clean Labeling in the food and supplement industry is becoming more and more popular. Even in Sports Nutrition, consumers are becoming steadily more conscious of what they will and won’t eat and of ingredient and supplement panels. Artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners are taking a back seat to natural ingredients, as organic and non-GMO products continue to be more prominent and preferred. A large reason for this is that sports nutrition drinks and supplements are more readily available in grocery and convenient stores, not just specialty stores and people of all ages are buying and consuming these products for reasons other than bulking up at the gym.
People are becoming more aware of what they eat, and how they live. Clean labels allow people to read the ingredient list and recognize the ingredients, and naturally sourced materials are seen as healthier than products with artificial flavors, or colors. It is also becoming more important for people to be able to recognize and pronounce the ingredients in the products they are taking. Ingredients that are unknown or not easily recognizable by consumers are getting a bad rep.
One drawback to the large demand for all natural ingredients and clean labeling is the difficulty in making certain products look and taste the same or better than their original versions, often times ones that contain artificial ingredients. For example, creating a blue raspberry flavored product with natural colors to look as bright and vibrant as one that contains artificial colors is often times more difficult and far more expensive to achieve due to acidity levels of the active ingredients, availability of supply, and cost. Similarly, achieving a comparable sweetness profile to sucralose using stevia or (other natural sweeteners) is often times costly and challenging. Although these aspects of a product may be something consumers are willing to overlook in the hopes of having healthier options, many products in sports nutrition are known for having bright colors, especially sports nutrition drinks.
When developing new products using natural flavors, sweeteners, or colors, be sure to work with a partner and product development team who has experience and understands these potential hurdles that come with clean formulating and clean labeling, and can work with you to help develop the best product for yours and your customers.
Written by: Sr. Flavor Scientist, Conor Delaney & Director of Product Development, Andrea Heglas.