Bowl of clean label pasta with tomato and basil

Clean label ingredients

Deliver the authentic clean label experiences that consumers are reaching for

Formulating to be what’s next with clean label ingredients can bring many questions — especially when you have complex product positioning, functionality and performance needs to consider.

"How do I get a clean label while keeping consumer-preferred taste and texture?"
"What are clean label ingredients that can bring more value to my products?"
"Which on-pack claims should I target with my clean label ingredient selection?"

Having introduced the first high-performing clean label ingredient in the 1990s and later published the industry's enduring "gold standard" clean label definition in 2011, Ingredion has led the way in clean label product innovation and technology for more than two decades. Look to our expanding range of cutting-edge clean label ingredients, in-depth consumer and market insights and full formulation and development support – all to help your brand create authentic foods and beverages with the ingredients consumers accept, expect and prefer.

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What are clean label ingredients, and what defines simple labels?

Understanding clean label ingredients is essential in today's consumer-driven market. While there isn't a formal regulatory definition, clean label is primarily shaped by consumer perception of ingredient acceptability, label claim preferences, and other factors. Clean label ingredients are recognized and accepted by consumers, free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and do not sound artificial. Moreover, their ingredient listing aligns with consumers' understanding of on-pack claims.

Taking it a step further, simple labels represent the next level of clean label. These products are crafted from a minimal number of highly accepted ingredients that meet consumers' specific expectations for a particular food or beverage. However, achieving simplicity may involve trade-offs, such as slight compromises in visual appeal, texture, or shelf life. To delve deeper into the definition of clean and simple labels, explore our comprehensive resources.

Simple labels – the next level of clean label – have all the characteristics of clean label plus are made from a minimal number of highly accepted ingredients that are expected by consumers in the specific food or beverage and may conform to the culinary standard. These products may include trade-offs to achieve simplicity (e.g., visual appeal, texture, shelf life).1 Learn more about the definition of clean and simple labels.


Achieve performance and preference with clean label ingredients

For the last 25 years, manufacturers have used clean label ingredients to replace ingredients and drive appeal without compromising on taste, texture and functionality. In doing so, they’ve grown their brands and driven greater value throughout their business. Here’s what clean label ingredients deliver:

  • Margin management: Clean label ingredients are manufactured all over the globe, enabling manufacturers to bypass the sourcing and pricing challenges associated with other commodities. Clean label ingredients can also reduce or replace other ingredients like dairy to drive formulation cost effectiveness without impacting enjoyment of eating.
  • Functional performance: Functional native starches and multi-benefit citrus fibers withstand temperature swings between freezing to thawing, making them ideal for both shelf stable and frozen food products. Emulsifiers keep product quality over shelf life, and these ingredients can also extend shelf life, thereby reducing waste.
  • Label appeal: All clean label ingredients are non-GMO, and certified organic options enable on-pack labeling. Many ingredients are gluten, grain, nut and dairy-free, which supports allergen-free labeling and celiac needs; ketogenic and paleo lifestyles; and kosher, halal and vegan requirements.
  • Nutritional and wellness appeal: Appeal to consumers who want foods and beverages with recognized ingredients. The unique textures of functional native starches and citrus fibers can enable reduction of dairy and other fats to improve nutritional profiles. Other ingredients, like citrus fibers, enable reduction of fats and oils due to their inherent composition.

Watch the below video which explores the advantages of a clean label approach from the manufacturer perspective.


The Business of Clean Label from Ingredion

We all know that clean label is good for consumers, but did you know it’s good for your business too? This video explores the advantages of  a clean label approach. Incorporating clean label can support your commercial drivers and deliver healthy business returns.

Get insights to deliver on consumers' clean label expectations

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Driving business value

Discover the top five benefits of clean label identified by manufacturers across the world and what helps them outperform the competition.

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Proprietary insights

Consumer, manufacturer and retailer perspectives are at your fingertips. The only program of its kind, our proprietary insights and tools give you what you need to help you grow your brands.

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Formulation resources

Whether seeking shelf life stability in yogurt, margin management in meat or exploring titanium dioxide alternatives, we have resources to guide your next steps.

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Explore our broad portfolio of clean label solutions

Ready to formulate with clean label ingredients that meet consumer expectations and drive value for your business? Our comprehensive range of clean label ingredient solutions, including  functional native starchesmulti-benefit citrus fibers and naturally derived emulsifiers, covers a wide variety of functional needs so you can deliver eating experiences that keep consumers coming back for more.

Clean label FAQs

How do I reformulate to clean label?

Be sure to start with a knowledgeable supplier. They can help look at the situation holistically to define your functional needs and then identify ingredients that will deliver on both your performance requirements and brand strategy. As part of this, you'll need to consider whether there are specific claims that you want to include and how the product will be positioned versus competitive products in the aisle.

Are clean label ingredient claims regulated?

While "clean label" as a claim is not regulated, the claims and attributes that comprise clean label are indeed regulated and vary by region/country and certifying agency. This includes claims that relate to the formulation, such as "no additives" and "no preservatives," and claims such as non-GMO, natural and organic, which rely on third-party certifications. Ingredion has invested in capabilities to stay up-to-date with the regulatory landscape and help our customers navigate the options for their products so that they can use their clean label ingredients confidently.

How can I improve speed to market of my clean label products?

Know-how. Insight. Capability. Collaboration. Simply, Ingredion has the deep clean label understanding to help you meet your end-to-end needs. Count on us for:

  • Broad portfolio to help meet your specific functional needs — performance, process tolerance, shelf stability
  • Varied range of base materials that appeal to consumers and improve labels
  • Proprietary data and insights to identify ingredients and claims that will create differentiated products
  • Expert formulation and product innovation support to get you to market faster
  • Available cost-stability solutions to help protect margins against supply uncertainty
  • An expanding global network of manufacturing locations to ensure product is available when needed

Let’s make your goals a reality

Agile collaboration. Deep formulation expertise. Broad portfolio of in-demand ingredients. Market research and consumer insights.

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1 ATLAS, Ingredion Proprietary Consumer Research, 2023

The information described above is solely offered for your consideration, investigation and independent verification. It is up to you to decide whether and how to use this information. Ingredion Incorporated and the Ingredion group of companies make no warranty about the accuracy or completeness of the information contained above or the suitability of any of their products for your specific intended use. Furthermore, all express or implied warranties of noninfringement, merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose are hereby disclaimed. Ingredion Incorporated and the Ingredion group of companies assume no responsibility for any liability or damages arising out of or relating to the foregoing.