What ‘Natural’ Really Means to Consumers

GNT Group’s Guide to Global Consumer Demands attests importance of natural colors for future-proof products

13 July 2017


Supermarkets today are full of products claiming to be natural: the food and beverage industry is responding to the massive global trend towards a healthier lifestyle. However, 45 percent of consumers are suspicious when they see claims of naturalness on product labels. To support manufacturers in understanding what consumers really want and perceive to be credibly natural, GNT, the leading global provider of Coloring Foods, and market research institute TNS surveyed some 5,000 people around the world. A comprehensive summary of the results, GNT’s Guide to Global Consumer Demands comprising 17 pages of findings, is now available as a free download.

“This guide provides food and beverage manufacturers with a unique manual to understand not only the naturalness trend but general eating and shopping habits, the evaluation of specific product characteristics, labels and ingredients,” says Paul Collins, Director of International Sales and Marketing at GNT Group. “Delivering insights on consumer needs, trends and innovation is an inherent part of our full-service approach. Our customers are always the first to know about surveys, market analyses and other research that ideally supplement their own studies.”

Natural food is free from additives

The results of the latest guide show that, in order to be deemed as natural, products have to be free from additives: more than three in four people worldwide are convinced that preservatives, artificial flavors and sweeteners have no place on their ingredient lists. The most important aspect when judging naturalness, however, is color: 79 percent of consumers demand natural products to be made without artificial colorants. Factors like the use of pesticides, genetic modification and content of vitamins or minerals are of less importance. “It becomes clear that food manufacturers who want to turn consumers’ skepticism into trust need to replace artificial additives with natural and recognizable alternatives”, explains Paul Collins.

When it comes to color, an ideal way to clean up ingredient lists are Coloring Foods. These are concentrates made exclusively from fruit, vegetables and edible plants which can be used in nearly every product category. On the label, they can simply be listed as “Coloring Food (concentrate of grape, elderberry)” or “concentrates (grape, elderberry)”, showing at one glance that they are natural and made from foods. Paul Collins adds, “With our stable and most verified EXBERRY® portfolio there is no more need to settle for additive colorants. Combining our expertise in natural food coloring with the insights from our consumer research, we can support manufacturers ideally in securing their future success.”

GNT’s Guide to Global Consumer’s Demands is available for download.

About the study

The GNT Group has commissioned the market research institute TNS to conduct a comprehensive global consumer study using a two-step method. Thereby, GNT is able to provide unique insights into consumers’ changing nutritional and purchasing behavior and the ongoing trend towards more natural goodness in foods and beverages. This information is crucial for food manufacturers in order to be able to develop and offer products that will meet consumers’ requirements in the future as well. In the first, qualitative phase, the attitudes of 175 consumers from seven different countries in America, Asia, and Europe were explored in an online platform. This preliminary survey was used as a basis for the questionnaire in the second, quantitative phase of the study. Here, 5,000 people aged between 18 and 70 were surveyed in ten different countries worldwide: in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Poland, Spain, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the USA.

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