The Evolution of Clean Label:
Addressing Millennial & Gen Z Demands
Blue Diamond Global Ingredients Division VP, Laura Gerhard discusses developments in the clean label movement and how Blue Diamond is rising to the challenge.
LAURA GERHARD: Hi there, and thanks for joining me. I’m Laura Gerhard, and today we will discuss how Millennials and Gen Z are influencing trends in the evolution of clean label – and how Blue Diamond continues to innovate to meet these generational demands.
The concerns and demands of younger generations will become increasingly important for brands in the future.
Take this quote from environmental activist Greta Thunberg. She is illustrative of how younger generations are being more deliberate in their actions and in their purchase decisions to help drive the change they want to see in the world.
In fact, they’re more likely to prioritize brands and products that they feel are aligned with their values and will have a positive impact on the environment and society. So, as we think about what a “clean label” means now and in the future, it’s important to understand how these generational characteristics will shape consumer expectations moving forward.
With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at 3 key clean label topics today.
- Understanding Clean Label Demand
- Generational Shifts in the Clean Label Movement
- …and Formulating for Tomorrow’s Clean Label Consumer
Let’s tackle that first one: Understanding Clean Label Demand.
There are several generational demands that are currently driving a renewed interest in the clean label trend, including…
- Health and Wellness,
- and Transparency.
Take a look at these statistics from across the globe
- 91% of U.S. consumers believe food products with recognizable ingredients are healthier.
- 50% of Brazilian consumers believe it’s better to have foods that are fortified with nutrition benefits than take vitamins/supplements, and…
- 46% of British adults associate “clean eating” with being good for you.”
And it’s not just about the ingredients. It’s also about HOW food manufacturers operate.
In fact, production and processing methods are equally powerful in influencing purchase decisions.
These statistics show that today’s consumers expect more transparency and responsible manufacturing from the brands they buy.
Now let’s move on to our second key topic: Generational Shifts in the Clean Label Movement.
Baby Boomers’ desire for simple, healthy ingredients drove early clean label trends, as staying healthy became their top motivator.
They began making more conscious food choices, from increasing their intake of healthier foods to decreasing their intake of sugar, sodium, trans fats and artificial sweeteners.
However, with Millennial and Gen Z consumers, their motivations are more mission- and purpose-driven – making them more likely than previous generations to buy from brands that align with their values.
But what are those values exactly? Well, according to McKinsey, Gen Z views the purchases they make as a reflection of their own identity, and support companies that are authentic and truthful in supporting those values, while, according to the Millennial Impact report, Millennials are much more likely to apply their passion to issues…NOT institutions – believing even small actions can drive change.
Add to that the fact that younger consumers show greater concern for ethical and environmental issues in general.
Even more interesting? Gen Z consumers are willing to pay more for products that reflect the issues they care about.
Now consider this, Gen Z and Millennials make up 63% of the global population and Millennials’ global aggregate income is surpassing that of Boomers and Gen X consumers – giving them nearly 350 billion dollars in combined spending power in the U.S. alone.
Based on all we know about both generations, making informed decisions for your brands that align with this knowledge just makes smart business sense.
Now, let’s take a look at our third and final topic: Formulating for Tomorrow’s Clean Label Consumer.
The preferences of both Millennials and Gen Z are significantly evolving the definition of “clean label”. It’s no longer just about health and nutrition claims. More focus is being placed on attributes like Ingredient provenance. Environmental sustainability. And food safety and transparency.
For brands, this will mean more emphasis on ethical and environmental considerations when it comes to ingredient sourcing and food production. And that includes doing business with companies that prioritize water conservation, green energy and other sustainable farming methodologies.
And at Blue Diamond these values are at the center of everything we do.
As the Director of Strategic Planning and Marketing, and a proud member of the Blue Diamond Global Ingredients family, I would be remiss if I didn’t speak a bit about how Blue Diamond works in support of clean label initiatives every day.
Blue Diamond Growers is a cooperative of California family almond farmers who are committed to the long-term viability of their farms and the land.
Being family farmers, our member-growers are active in their communities and manage their farms with a long-term vision and a focus on the cleanest, most efficient farming practices available.
These practices include using alternative tools to prevent insect pests and diseases, thereby reducing pesticide usage employing low volume irrigation methods to maximize irrigation efficiency and the use of cover cropping, which includes growing plants down the middle of an orchard row to help build soil and grow flowers for pollinators.
We also recognize that every almond orchard is a thriving ecosystem and maintaining a healthy supply of, not only trees, but also bees and water are crucial to the success of the almond industry.
In fact, bees are our critical partners in pollination. Almond orchards provide honeybees with their first natural source of food each spring.
And just like almonds are a nutritious snack for us, almond pollen is very nutritious to honeybees.
Honeybee hives routinely leave stronger after visiting during almond bloom and beekeepers can split many of the hives to grow their apiaries.
When it comes to water, California farmers are certainly aware of how precious this essential, yet limited resource is.
That’s why they are so committed to its responsible and efficient use – including making some critical, water-saving production improvements.
In fact, our commitment to sustainability in every area of production and processing runs deep.
We turn raw almonds into delicious almond-based snacks, beverages, and ingredients using state-of-the-art technology, which we’ve pioneered and improved for generations.
We employ a continuous improvement process in our operations, seeking to reduce inputs and waste while improving quality, throughput, and yields.
And our facilities have green building aspects that help with energy efficiency and resource impact.
We are also proud to share that both our Salida and Turlock facilities have recently been recognized as Green Business Certified by the California Green Business Network for demonstrating sustainability as a top business priority.
In addition to our responsible practices, we also apply our almond expertise to develop versatile ingredients that support simpler labels.
This allows new product development teams to leverage the superfood potential of almonds in a variety of forms for free-form and clean label formulations.
And the benefits? Endless!
Blue Diamond Almond Flour helps improve taste, texture and nutrition in gluten-free or better-for-you bakery products.
With a clean taste and a smooth texture, Almond Protein Powder reduces the need for masking agents in protein formulations, making for a simpler label.
All of our almond ingredients are produced via mechanical separation – no chemical additives are used in processing.
Our Almond Flour and Almond Protein positively contribute to increasing fiber with minimal need for additional fiber additives
Our Almond Flour retains moisture better than wheat flour, provides a richer, denser texture and our Almond Butter offers heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and almond butter and almond protein mimic dairy texture and consistency in non-dairy products.
Though we have been leading innovation in the almond industry for over a century with our forward-thinking business model, Blue Diamond would be nothing without our network of collaborators; the growers, our supply chain partners, and of course, our customers.
With them, we will continue to deliver on our commitment to innovations that meet clean label demands and shape our collective futures.
Meet the Expert
Blue Diamond Global
Laura has worked in food and agriculture for over 22 years. She has rich experience in the agriculture and food industry, developing and leading commercial and product line strategies and sales leadership. She is a champion of continuous improvement initiatives regarding pricing and product portfolio optimization, consistently resulting in improved profits. Her passion for and knowledge of natural and better for you food market trends translates into exceptional outcomes for Blue Diamond customers worldwide.