When looking in the dictionary, clean means free from dirt, stains or unwanted matter. Similarly, when consumers look for clean food product labels, they expect to find natural ingredients instead of artificial compounds, reports Bryan See, Business Development Manager, ExcelVite Sdn Bhd.

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Clearly, food and beverage manufacturers are heeding the consumer call to “Go Clean” as the majority of end users scrutinise labels and opt for simple and easy-to-understand ingredients as opposed to complicated and difficult-to-understand chemical-sounding ingredient names. Hence, a simple list of comprehensible ingredients on the nutrition label is the overall goal.

Why do clean labels matter?

According to Mordor Intelligence, the forecast value for global clean label ingredients is estimated to reach $47.10 billion by 2022. Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) are the leading drivers of this clean food label trend. About half of them are now of grocery purchasing age and they are becoming increasingly health-conscious, with a high awareness of product labels and ingredient lists.

In the next few years, millennials will be the largest and most powerful consumer demographic. Their purchasing power will eventually influence how manufacturers modify or improve their supply chain, processing methods and the way they use healthier food additives to meet this growing demand and trend.

Clean and healthy ingredient: carotenoids

Carotenoids are bright yellow, orange and red natural plant pigments that are found most abundantly in fruits and vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, cantaloupes and pumpkins. Carotene is one of the most common ingredients in food and beverage products. It is commonly used as a colouring agent, for the fortification of provitamin A — which is crucial to prevent vitamin A deficiency and night blindness — or as natural antioxidants.

Among all the dietary carotenoids, beta-carotene (ß-carotene) is one of the most abundant. Historically, ß-carotene’s popularity stemmed from indirect observations derived from several major population studies. Unfortunately, ß-carotene’s reputation plummeted after the release of negative findings from a number of large intervention trials — such as CARET (Beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial), PHS (Physician’s Health Study) and ATBC (Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study) — that collectively showed that supplementation with synthetic or single-form ß-carotene increases the incidence of lung cancer (especially among smokers) or provides no beneficial effects.

By contrast, natural mixed carotenoids derived from fruit and vegetables consist of a bouquet of carotenoids (alpha-carotene, ß-carotene, gamma-carotene, lycopene) have not been shown to have any adverse effects to date.

Read the full Part I on Nutraceutical Business Review website

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