GLOBAL – 78% of global consumers are willing to pay more for products with natural claims irrespective of costs, according to the latest wave of Ingredion’s proprietary global consumer research (ATLAS 2023).

The research, collected in December and published in January, compiled insights from 14,000 consumers across 30 countries.

Of those willing to pay more, nearly half of the consumers (46%) would pay 20% to 30% more for products carrying a natural claim.

Daniel Haley, global platform lead for clean and simple ingredients at Ingredion, told FoodNavigator that the additional amount many are willing to pay for a natural claim is more than enough to not only justify the additional resources needed to create or reformulate products with clean labels.

According to Haley, the trend is an eye-opener for manufacturers and/or retailers to generate “significant profit margins, and a very strong value proposition.”

The research further reported that there is a 40% net gain in consumers wanting products only made with natural ingredients, a 43% gain in those checking labels, and a 29% [net gain] in those looking for products with no artificial ingredients.

In addition, since the first wave of ATLAS was conducted in 2020, Haley explained, there is a 24% net gain in consumers looking for organic ingredients.

Cleaning up labels is more than swapping one ingredient for another

Despite the positive trend in ingredients with a natural claim, Haley said that meeting rising consumer demand for clean label options isn’t as easy as simply swapping a particular ingredient in the product with one that is more attractive to consumers.

Rather, he explained that strategically reformulating products with shorter lists of natural ingredients can create an opportunity for brands to add more of what consumers are looking for.

He suggested health-plus benefits, such as gut health, dietary fiber, and immunity support, as well as sustainability and lifestyle claims

“These added values don’t have to add costs,” Haley said. As examples, he pointed to two ingredients that Ingredion’s ATLAS survey showed were gaining popularity between 2020 and 2023

Among the ingredients was rice flour, a basic ingredient, but multifactional in effectively replacing undesirable modified starches across a wide range of products with familiar ingredients.

Additionally, citrus fiber can deliver the health boost of fiber as well as act as a stabilizer or emulsifier that can replace less desirable and often more expensive hydrocolloids, Haley said.

To better understand which combination of ingredients, claims, added benefits, and attributes consumers are willing to pay more for, Haley said that Ingredion has incorporated into this wave of ATLAS 2023 a ‘conjoint stimulator’.

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