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‘Almost half of consumers’ expect natural products

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Consumers around the world are ‘becoming more cautious’ about what they eat and drink, according to the latest research from Euromonitor International.

Almost half of consumers (47%) want food to be all-natural – up from 44% last year – while 45% want products to be free from artificial ingredients.

The highest growth in demand was for products with no artificial sweeteners, as sugar and sugar alternatives are put under the microscope; as well as non-GMO, a particular concern for consumers in North America. Both were up 9% on last year, as consumers become increasingly conscious of the food and drink they consume.

Indeed, over one-third of consumers carefully read food and beverage labels, scanning for ingredients on their ‘must avoid’ list, and for the natural and added vitamin ingredients that are most sought after, Euromonitor found.

Lisa Holmes, senior survey analyst for Euromonitor International, said: “Natural product features seem to appeal to consumers in a way that more specific green labels such as eco-friendly and organic do not. 55% of respondents look for natural features when buying products in at least one category, compared with 41% who look for eco-friendly features and 39% who look for organic. ‘Natural’ labels are especially important to consumers when they are deciding what food to buy.

“Although many consumers seek out products with natural ingredients and features, enthusiasm wanes when they are faced with the prospect of paying more in exchange for natural. 39% of respondents are willing to pay more for natural in at least one product category, compared with 29% who will pay more for organic and 20% who will pay more for non-GMO. Willingness to pay more for natural follows the same patterns as general interest in these product features and ingredients, without any unexpected stinginess or overspending among consumers in each country.

“Just as interest in natural product features is most widespread among internet-connected consumers in emerging markets, willingness to pay more for natural is also highest among these consumers. Turkish and Indian consumers are at the top; two-thirds of respondents in these markets are willing to pay more for natural.”

Despite the findings, Euromonitor still recorded significant differences in how consumers define the term ‘natural’, with those who don’t trust natural products holding different beliefs about the motivations for brands using natural claims on pack.

In general, the most commonly held perception among consumers was that natural products would be chemical-free, or not contain any artificial ingredients.

But, in some places, consumers who don’t trust the ‘natural’ label were almost three times as likely to define natural products as an excuse for brands to charge more for their products, or claim that it was a term used only for marketing purposes.

These were the fourth and fifth most commonly held beliefs about natural products among consumers who don’t trust a brand’s natural positioning.

It highlights the need for brands to do more to bring the natural products category into the mainstream and be completely transparent about the benefits of their products.

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