Innovation

Creating a Clean Label Begins with Defining “Clean Label”

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Bay State Milling Company,

 

As it has happened many summers before, a group of Bay State Milling employees and customers walked the organic wheat fields at R & K Farms in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. The annual trip is a great way to celebrate the harvest and a longtime relationship between a farmer and a miller.

The wheat from this year’s harvest was transported a short distance to Bay State’s Platteville, CO facility where it was milled into a variety of OrganicEssentials flour. That flour then moved out of the mill to bakeries and manufacturers around the country.

The organic wheat harvested from R & K Farms is one of many examples of Bay State’s relationship-based supply chain. These longstanding relationships are not only found with American farmers, but around the world, where the company procures ancient grains and seeds.

In the minds of many bakers and manufacturers, a product that is organic certified with a clear line to a farm is ideal. Today, educated consumers are seeking more transparency, which often comes with the desire for a “clean label.”

Approximately 67% of consumers say they take nutritional content statements and statements about health benefits into account when making purchases, according to a Packaged Facts National Consumer Survey. The same percentage of people in the survey said they look for products with “fewer or simpler ingredients.” The challenge for companies is how to define clean label, and the truth is, consumers aren’t sure either.

According to a Nutrition Business Journal consumer survey, 47% of people have never heard the term “clean label.” Further, only 17% of respondents say they have a good understanding of it. The NBJ survey and other research have tried to pin down what “clean label” means to consumers, but the answers cover a wide spectrum. Broadly, “free-from” is often used to define a clean label. Some people focus on the number of ingredients or their ability to pronounce what they find on a label. Yet others say a clean label must be Non-GMO or organic. The wider definitions for clean label consider ethics, sustainability and sourcing.

What is a company supposed to do while chasing the moving target that is “clean label”?

In a recent webinar entitled Coming Clean: A look at What’s Shaping the Clean Label Trend and What’s Next, Eric Pierce, Director of Strategy and Insights at New Hope Natural Media, contends the answer is different for every company. The key is to find what speaks to your customers and establish trust. Depending on the product this could be anything from safely and ethically sourced materials to organic.

However you define your needs, Bay State Milling has the ability to provide a consistent supply to support your clean label. With over a century of establishing relationships and developing new ingredients, Bay State Milling can be a partner for those trying to navigate the changing world of “clean label.”