An American Egg Board briefing (white paper) on the relevance and importance of eggs in today’s clean label marketplace and their power to enhance and protect your food product’s market share.
It’s a fact – nothing is more natural than the egg. And for consumers who look more and more for clean labeled natural products with recognizable ingredients, eggs can make an important difference in their buying decisions.
Consumers are demanding natural products because they equate natural with healthy, attracted to this “natural nutrition” they see as inherently good, fresh and wholesome.1 According to Mintel’s Lynn Dornblaser, director of CPG Trend Insight, consumers desire transparency in their food. “They are very suspicious of things they don’t understand and this translates into being afraid of chemical names they can’t understand.” For this reason, they are attracted to clean labels, which have a relatively small number of identifiable ingredients. In addition, consumers will often pay more for natural products.1
And consumers aren’t wrong, particularly when it comes to eggs. As a registered dietitian and culinary instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York put it, eggs are a “nutritional powerhouse.” Eggs provide some of the highest quality protein of any food on top of being one of the few nondairy sources of vitamin D. Eggs are a naturally nutrient-dense food, containing varying amounts of 13 essential nutrients in a package with a relatively low number of calories.
Egg products are a valuable tool in meeting diverse formulation requirements while providing the clean labels consumers crave. These products come in a variety of formats, such as refrigerated liquid, frozen, dried and specialty products.
With more emphasis today on nutrition and added protein in the diet, people have come to recognize the nutritional value of eggs. Most healthy people can include eggs in their diet. And that's good news, because as consumers become more health-conscious, they are choosing foods with minimal ingredients and fewer synthetic additives. There’s ample proof that people like their eggs.
According to McDonalds®, its breakfast items, including The Egg McMuffin®, represent 15 percent of its business. In 2012, Americans consumed 223.70 million cases or nearly 80.5 billion eggs.
Eggs are an essential part of making the foods we enjoy every day even better. And putting them on your label can be an economic asset.
Eggs: Much more than natural
Eggs assuredly give consumers a good, familiar feeling about buying products made with trusted, recognizable ingredients. But that’s not the whole story. Eggs are also a key ingredient in making products better.
One of nature’s most perfect foods improves other foods as well. Egg products contribute more than 20 functional properties, such as the ability to foam, leaven, bind, thicken, coat, color, emulsify, plus control crystallization and moisture which make many food formulas possible – naturally. Most egg products are virtually indistinguishable from fresh eggs in nutritional value, flavor and most functional properties. Eggs are priced competitively and sourced domestically, qualities important to both manufacturers and consumers.
Eggs possess unique properties and attributes unequaled by any single egg alternative. Research supports findings that eggs require more than a simple 1:1 substitution with an egg alternative to acquire similar ingredient functionality in many prepared foods.2 It takes more than one ingredient to replace the multiple functionalities of eggs, running the risk of increasing costs, while losing the eggs’ natural appeal. It’s simple – adding eggs adds value.
‘Aware Shoppers’ shape clean label trends
More and more consumers are redefining the qualities they value in the foods they eat and taking healthy diets and eating habits into their own hands. Fresh, safe, natural, healthy and chemical free are now the key words people use to describe what they’re looking for. People are increasingly aware of health concerns and the nation’s expanding waistlines. To be continually relevant in today’s market, these concerns must be addressed.
Topping the list of Innova Market Insights’ food and beverage predictions for 2013 is “The Aware Shopper.” Described as informed and knowledgeable about health and value, “Aware Shoppers” are key drivers in shaping the clean label trend.
Targeting the natural market
Designed to meet the increasing demand for healthy food products at a great price, Target has introduced Simply Balanced™, a new food collection within its own brand portfolio. The Simply Balanced collection is crafted to be free of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives – giving guests more of the simple, recognizable ingredients they know and want – and a food label they can understand. The Simply Balanced collection offers nearly 250 products across snacks, pasta, beverages, frozen seafood, dairy and cereal.8
These shoppers, with support from consumer advocacy groups, lobbyists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and politicians, are pushing the food and beverage industry for simplicity, transparency and credibility. Answering their concerns isn’t difficult, according to Innova, “Simple, clear labels on products send the transparency message to consumers.”3
What does ‘clean’ mean?
It’s simple, while industry has struggled to analyze clean labeling; consumers have their own clear definition. According to Food Navigator‘s Elaine Watson, it’s simple – “Today’s informed and aware consumers are looking for ingredients they recognize and have at home.”4
Results from the 2013 International Food Information Council “Health and Wellness” annual survey showed 93 percent of consumers prefer to see common names for ingredients on their labels. A 2011 American Egg Board survey shows that 94 percent of American households have eggs in their homes.
Beyond the definition, clean labeling means opportunity. From 2011 through the first four months of 2013, nearly 6,000 (5,928) products with “All Natural” as a label claim have been introduced, a clear indication of the rising demand for these foods. Clean labeling with familiar ingredients is also important in influencing the crucial Millennial market, where 58 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for natural products.5 There are 26 million American “healthy consumers” 50+ who “seek out natural products in supermarkets” representing $1 trillion in aggregate household income.6
Clean labeling also reflects the rise in demand for simple comfort foods, made from simple ingredients commonly found in the kitchen. It also encompasses the fresh and locavore movements, along with the nationwide surge in local farmers markets. Throughout the country, eggs continue to be associated with products that are fresh and local.
Large retail corporations, like Target, which closely follow consumer trends in packaged foods and groceries, are turning toward natural products with clean labels. If you want to be part of this growing market, you need to take a close look at your ingredients.
It’s proven that consumers’ level of familiarity and comfort has a distinct psychological effect on likes and dislikes. In a government study, respondents liked a product significantly better when it came in a familiar package than when the identical product was served from an unfamiliar package.7 Think about it this way – people mistrust what they don’t understand. For some consumers, seeing ascorbic acid on the ingredient statement might bring thoughts of skepticism, while vitamin C is more easily identifiable. Everyone understands an egg.
Webinar focuses on clean labeling
In a June 26, 2013, Food Navigator webinar, Natural & Clean Label Trends 2013, presenters discussed research data and trends involved in the growing clean label market. According to participants, manufacturers should carefully consider market drivers, consumer perception and ingredient choices.
The clean and natural labeling movement continues to gain traction, not just in the U.S. but globally, with fully 17 percent of new food and beverage launches around the world now positioned as natural, additive- and preservative-free or both. Innova research indicates clean label product launches in the U.S. from 2007 to 2012 constituted 18 percent of the market.9
Tom Vierhile, innovation insight director, Datamonitor, London, discussed clean and natural versus organic and consumer opinions about ingredients’ titles. He said no matter how small a change is instituted, companies manufacturing almost any product type could take advantage of this trend, “even something like clear packaging to show the ingredients a product contains, telegraphs to consumers their products are more wholesome.”
5 ingredients for success
Not only are consumers seeking out products with natural claims, but companies are also using clean labeling to enhance premium products. A prime example is Häagen-Dazs Five® ice cream, made with just five simple, natural ingredients – sugar, eggs, cream, milk and flavoring. The Five brand was introduced in 2009 and since has outperformed all other Häagen-Dazs brand ice creams.1
Vierhile and other presenters warned attendees that consumers can be skeptical of natural claims and authenticity is one key to success.9 Eggs are real and authentic by nature.
Natural trends by the numbers
A survey of product trends over the past three years paints a picture of what it may take to remain competitive in a changing food market.
Consumers have made their definition of clean labeling clear. They want to see ingredients that they are comfortable and familiar with – items they have in their homes and would use to make recipes themselves. Food industry leaders are quickly responding.
Pillsbury Simply…® cookies are advertised as being “made just like you’d make them at home with just the simple, whole ingredients you and your family know and love.” Consumers are also being greeted with an array of new products marketed using terms such as “like grandma made,” “homemade” and “homestyle.” Even if a product doesn’t have a particularly healthful profile, consumers seem to be responding to simple ingredient statements, observed Lu Ann Williams, head of research at Innova Market Insights. Innova has long identified the importance of the drive toward simplicity, first ranking it as a No. 1 trend in 2010.14
This is the time to make certain your label is doing all it can to earn and protect your market share. Research proves “all natural” labels do capture the attention of consumers and can clearly help to drive sales.1512
Whether companies decide to go “natural” with their products, it is important to be honest and simple with your messages and formulations in order to build a trusting relationship with your consumers.1 One simple, familiar ingredient can help you build that relationship. The egg.
1. Hensel, Kelly, “Natural Flavors, Colors Here To Stay,” IFT June 14, 2011; ift.org/2011/06/14/natural-flavors-colors-here-to-stay/
2. “Accept No Substitutes,” aeb.org/food-manufacturers/egg-nutrition-and-trends/accept-no-substitutes
3. “Innova identifies top 10 trends for 2013;” ift.org/food-technology/daily-news/2012/november/08/innova-identifies-top-10-trends-for-2013.aspx
4. Watson, Elaine, “Who is driving the clean label agenda, and what does clean really mean?” Food Navigator-usa.com, 27 February 2012; foodnavigator-usa.com/content/view/print/616184
5. Jeffries and Alix Partners, “Trouble in Aisle 5,” research report 2012; http://www.alixpartners.com/en/MediaCenter/PressReleaseArchive/tabid/821/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/258/Rise-of-the-Millennials-and-Aging-of-the-Boomer-Generation-Will-Mean-Trouble-in-Aisle-5-for-Established-Food-Brands-and-Traditional-Grocery-Stores.aspx
6. Packaged Facts “Healthy 50+ Americans: Trends and Opportunities in Emerging Wellness Markets;” packagedfacts.com/Healthy-Attitudes-Activities-6135736/
7. Vanderbilt, Tom, “Accounting for Taste,” Smithsonian, June 2013; smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Why-You-Like-What-You-Like-208352621.html?utm_source=smithsoniantopic&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20130526-Weekender#Accounting-for-Taste-banana-1.jpg
8. Target: A Bullseye View; http://abullseyeview.com/target-introduces-simply-balanced-wellness-food-brand/
9. Turner, Jeanne, “The “X” Factor – Clean Label Considerations” 01 July 2013; foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/07/the-x-factor-clean-label-considerations.aspx
10. Dornblaser, L. 2013. U.S. product Trends and Implications for Meat & Poultry. Reciprocal Meats Conference. Auburn, AL.
11. Gibeson, A. 2012. The complexity of 'clean' label. FoodBusinessNews.net February 3, 2012. Accessed on: June 2, 2013.
12. Hensel, K. 2011. Natural flavors, colors here to stay. live.ift.org/2011/06/14/natural-flavors-colors-here-to-stay/ Accessed on: June 20, 2013.
13. Saltmarsh, M. and Insall, L. 2013. Food Additives and Why They Are Used. In Essential Guide to Food Additives, 4th Edition. M. Saltmarsh, ed. Royal Society of Chemistry, www.rsc.org.
14. Kuhn, Mary Ellen, “Consumers Seek Simplicity,” Innova Reports, 19 July 2010
15. “The Influence of Labels on Consumer Choice - Importance and Ease of Interpreting Label Information,” US - May 2010 - [Report Section]
16. 2012 American Egg Board Advertising Tracking Study