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Confusion over ‘Natural’ Drives ‘Free-from’ Uptake

Confusion over what the term ‘natural’ means when applied to food products is driving a free-from “revolution”, according to Mintel.

Mintel researchers say that while natural food and drink appears to have gone mainstream, confusion around what ‘natural’ actually means is driving growth in free-from options.

Research from Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) reveals that there was a 366% increase in ‘GMO-free’ claims on natural food/drink launches from 2007-17, while ‘no additives/preservatives’ claims grew 21%. Meanwhile, relatively less specific claims such as ‘all natural product’ declined 62% in the same time period.

Although natural/organic food and drink shoppers are most likely to agree that foods and beverages with natural/organic claims are better for you (42%), Mintel’s research reveals confusion among some consumers about what that actually means. For example, shoppers are just as likely to agree that natural/organic foods and beverages offer clear benefits (22%) as they are to say that foods with natural/organic claims are a gimmick (19%).

The research shows that consumers can more easily define organic claims than natural claims as shoppers are significantly more likely to consider organic products as being free of certain additives.