Health is not normally a key driver in confectionery purchasing and consumption, particularly in the impulse buy sector. However, the rising level of interest in ‘naturalness’ in the food and drinks market as a whole has been making a growing impression in the confectionery sector and driving many to move towards ‘clean labelling’ – a term used to describe the replacement of artificial ingredients with natural alternatives.
New research by Innova Market Insights recently reported nearly 9.5 per cent of all confectionery launches recorded in the 12-months to the end of September 2012 used either natural or additive-/preservative-free claims or both; making it the most popular health claim overall.
Sugar-free/low-sugar/no-added-sugar claims also featured on around 9 per cent of introductions, with organic claims on 3.3 per cent and low-fat claims on just fewer than 2 per cent.
There has also been ongoing interest in the international chocolate market. For example, in early 2012 Nestlé UK announced it had removed all artificial additives from its confectionery lines, and had replaced more than 80 ingredients with natural alternatives in the 79 products in its UK portfolio.
Similar initiatives are also underway in Canada and a number of European markets. Rival chocolate companies Mars and Cadbury (Kraft) have also taken drastic steps to cut down on artificial ingredients.
“A recent development that could help in the drive for clean-label confectionery and chocolate in the Australian baking industry has been the growing use of the natural sweetener stevia, which finally gained EU approval in 2011, following on from 2008 approvals in the US and Australasia,” Innova Market Insights regional director Australasia Glen Wells said.
“Consumers are now much more aware of the benefits of Stevia – the good taste, being tooth-friendly and zero calories.”