Food additives are ground zero in shift to natural ingredients

Food additives are ground zero in shift to natural ingredients

Processed food manufacturers are finding themselves in a confounding situation. The processed food industry’s turnover from artificial to natural ingredients continues with a vengeance, and food additives are ground zero. Consumers’ preference for clean labels has continued to expand, and the food additives industry is running hard to keep up. For example, major industry R&D investment is driving the release of new naturally sourced colors applicable to a growing number of food categories. The industry is also finding new solutions to support shelf stability and minimize impacts on flavor. Similarly, consumer distaste for MSG and MSG-like compounds continues to encourage development of new naturally-sourced flavor enhancers by the likes of Kikkoman, Nikken, Synergy Flavors, and many others.

However, some food additive categories are notably lacking in natural alternatives. Excepting Stone Age solutions like drying, smoking, and adding excessive salt or sugar, preservatives still suffer from long and unpronounceable, or even infamous names: hydroxybiphenyl, potassium sorbate, nitrates, etc. In fact, preservatives are a major concern among today’s shoppers, and increasing numbers are looking to avoid well-known preservatives in spite of high expectations for shelf stability. The industry’s R&D pipeline is struggling to keep up. Nisin and natamycin, derived from bacterial fermentation, have been around for decades and are at least arguably natural. But their application is limited, and more diverse solutions are needed.

Further confounding matters, for mass market products, the best solutions do not indiscriminately substitute long labels with high-cost, low performing natural additives. Today’s consumers love clean labels, but they also love high performing, well flavored foods. Case in point, after test-running a new 100% natural line, Campbell’s backed off partially on their clean label effort, and resumed use of some additives that help flavor and maintain shelf stability of their products. The revised Homestyle line reflects these updates.

Will the industry rise to the occasion and make new and better-performing natural additives available for use in clean label processed foods? Many promising advances appear to be in the works. New natural preservatives are under development, available natural colors continue to expand, naturally sourced stabilizers and fat replacers are growing - but how will these changes affect food additive markets, and how will consumers respond? Packaged Facts’ report, Food Additives: The U.S. Market, takes an in-depth look at the current food additives industry including consumer trends, industry R&D, possible regulatory changes, and other key/critical market factors, and projects estimated growth through 2018. Packaged Facts’ detailed analysis provides additive market breakdowns for 16 categories of food products, across 8 categories of common food additives, providing a comprehensive, highly detailed account of values and trends in the U.S. additives market.