2023 Clean Label Post Conference Magazine

Originally Published: September 18, 2023
Last Updated: September 22, 2023
2023 Clean Label Magazine feature image

In May 2023, Global Food Forums held its 8th in-person Clean Label Conference. This publication, the 2023 Clean Label Post Conference Magazine, is based on presentations from that event. Clean label products have short ingredient lists with consumer-friendly names. The concept of clean label products has grown to include trends such as plant-based diets and sustainable food industry practices. Additionally, due to the pandemic and world events like ingredient supply chain disruption, clean label product formulators have wrestled with additional issues in developing clean label products. Several speakers focused on sugar reduction, which were offered in alliance with Global Food Forums’ Sweetener Systems Website.

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Clean Label: What Matters to Consumers? 
Presenter: Stephanie Mattucci, CFS, Director, Food Science, Mintel

While the definition of clean label has evolved, at its core, it has always been about health and safety. Clean label products must adapt to address new concerns, especially in the wake of the concurrent repercussions of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. The next generation of successful clean label products will be those that understand the convergence of health and sustainability trends. “Better-for-us” will be the new “better-for-you” as people consider the effects of what they eat on themselves and the world around them.


The Latest on Labeling Claims from “Healthy” to Eco-Friendly
Presenter: Lauren SwannMSc, RD, LDN, CEO and President, Concept Nutrition, Inc.

Healthy consciousness continues to influence product messaging in diverse ways. This presentation will review the status of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s proposed “Healthy” claim revision and any progress with its voluntary Healthy Symbol initiative, especially regarding Front-of-Pack Nutrient Callouts. The complexity and specifics of Eco-Conscious descriptions, including 3rd-party certifications, will be used to demonstrate how sustainability trends are driving voluntary product declarations. Insights will be offered into how regulations may impact the increased use of QR codes for supply chain transparency. Lastly, an examination will be made on how regulations are shaping up to meet consumers’ desire for easily accessible product information that is currently required on the front panel of products in retail stores but is often missing for online merchandise.


Clean Label Bitterness Blockers: Neuroscience, Ingredient Technologies, Application
Presenter: Alex Woo, Ph.D., CEO and Founder, W2O Food Innovation

Roughly 100 food substances, including peptides, phenolics and high-potency sweeteners are known to be bitter to humans. “Bitterness blockers” is an ingredient technology space based on contemporary bitterness neuroscience. Mechanisms of action include TAS2R active site blocking, negative allosteric modulation, and calcium blocking in the bitter taste cells. Making better-for-you foods and beverages taste less bitter is possible with a short list of plant-based bitterness blockers, all of them labeled as natural flavor, including naringenin, sugar cane distillate, mushroom mycelia extract, and 1,3- propanediol. This presentation is indispensable for anyone formulating healthful foods and beverages with beneficial but often bitter-tasting ingredients.]


Formulation Strategies & Solutions for Ingredient Cost Increases & Disrupted Supply Chains
Presenter: Jaime Reeves, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Product Development & Commercialization, Mattson

Global events have caused disruptions in ingredient supply chains, shortages, and increased prices. Meanwhile, more than ever, consumers demand great-tasting products with clean, pantry-friendly ingredients. In a series of case studies (to be disclosed shortly), Mattson will discuss how its product development teams applied creative solutions to meet its clients’ target cost of goods, discovered workarounds for ingredient shortages, and delivered great tasting, longer shelf-life clean label products. If your company is working on reformulating due to supply chain disruption, increased cost-of-goods, or a cleaner ingredient statement, this product development-focused session is a must.


Strategic Use of Food Structures for Superior Plant-based Formulations & Cleaner Labels
Presenter: Jeff Casper, MSc, Partner, Voyageur Foodworks

The appearance, texture, flavor, and nutritive properties of a food are greatly influenced by its structure. Current plant-based analogs rely on deconstructed plant tissues that are modified and combined with other ingredients in an attempt to create dairy and meat-mimicking structures and sensory profiles. Through formulation case studies comparing current vs. alternative paths to achieve specific structures, this presentation will provide insights into how developing a structure-based formulation strategy may lead to better formulation decisions and outcomes. Additionally, it will touch on how progress in plant breeding will help reduce cost, save energy, and shorten ingredient declarations.


Ethical Analyses and Labeling for Protein Claims
Presenter: David Plank, Managing Principal, WRSS Food & Nutrition Insights / Senior Research Fellow, Dept. of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota

To make a protein content claim on a food, it is required by law to label the percent of quality protein. Measuring quality protein requires the determination of protein digestibility in rats that are sacrificed. This is the only FDA regulation requiring animal testing for a food product label. Compliance with the law creates a dilemma for food manufacturers desiring a clean label concerning ethical animal treatment. We will present the financial risks of not complying with the existing regulations and a new method that accurately determines rat digestibility without using animals.


Food and Technology 2023: Consumer Trends and Tensions
Presenter: Shelley Balanko, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, The Hartman Group

While consumers have accepted, even embraced, many scientific and technological innovations in their food lives, they remain most guarded regarding what they put in their bodies. A mounting sense of urgency around the challenges facing the food system is helping to soften consumer resistance to science and technology in food. Consumers evaluate novel food production methods through interrelated, overlapping criteria that reflect deep-seated concerns about the impacts of science and technology on (and in) food. How these tensions play out at the shelf will ultimately depend on how these production methods are embodied in real-world products and categories. This presentation will deep dive into consumer awareness of novel food production technologies, their concerns, and the likelihood of trial. Key themes for successful communication with consumers to facilitate the adoption of new food technologies will conclude the discussion.


Upcycled Ingredients and Food Products: Challenges and Opportunities for Product Developers
Presenter: Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D., CHE, CRC,,Prof. & Dir., Food Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programs, Dept. of Food and Hospitality Management, Drexel University ALSO VP, Upcycled Food Foundation Board

Food loss and waste are the largest preventable contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Upcycled Food Association, “Over 30% of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste. Upcycled food prevents this problem by creating new, high-quality products from surplus food.” Consumer acceptance of upcycled foods is key to the successful and transparent marketing of these food products. For decades, the food industry has been concerned about needing to discount or apologize for upcycling food that would otherwise be wasted. Working with colleagues from marketing and biomedical engineering, as well as the Upcycled Food Association, the Drexel Food Lab has conducted a suite of research on consumer attitudes to upcycled foods that can guide food manufacturers and marketers. This talk will provide a high-level overview of the successes, challenges and consumer acceptance of upcycled food.


Practical Insights to Formulating with Supply Challenges
Presenter: Michelle Tittl, ACAP, BS, Product Development Manager, CuliNEX

Food formulation relies on a look at future ingredient and material avaiability. With supply shortages, crop disruptions, and demand imbalance, the pressure on food developers and a procurement team to find solutions is unending, especially with clean label formulation guardrails. Michelle Tittl, Product Development Manager at CuliNEX, will review clients’ practical challenges and recommend strategies and solutions for ingredient reduction, replacement, and reformulation that she and her team use. Examples to be presented include implementing temporary solutions, alternative ingredient blends, cost reduction, process strategies, and reduction vs. replacement strategies.

A Holistic Formulation Approach to Clean Label Products
Presenter: Lucile Jarry, R&D Manager – Food Brands, Hain Celestial Group

A clean label food or beverage can open the doors to incremental distribution, differentiate your products in a crowded space, and command a higher price point for improved margins. However, formulators are challenged with other success criteria when designing or redesigning a product. Clean label solutions must accommodate competing factors such as sensory, shelf life, certifications, cost of goods and site capabilities, which create very specific opportunities. Through several case studies from the worlds of bakery, nut butters and baby food, this session will outline a holistic approach to formulating successful clean label products.


Low Calorie Sweeteners’ Impact on Blood Glucose, Hunger, Weight & the Microbiome
Presenter: Richard Mattes, Ph.D.,  Distinguished Professor of Nutrition Science at Purdue University, Affiliated Scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center

The most recent review by the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded that low-calorie sweeteners (LCS) might be an effective approach to manage body weight. However, the NOVA system, which is gaining traction in dietary guidance globally, categorizes any food containing an LCS as ultra-processed and should therefore be avoided. Thus, the evidence on LCS needs to be critically reviewed to determine their role in the diet. This presentation will review the evidence on the effects of LCS on blood glucose concentrations, appetite, food intake, body weight and the microbiome. One point to be questioned is whether it is appropriate to view all LCS as a single class or to evaluate them individually. Preliminary evidence supporting the latter view will be presented.


No Sugar Coating—A Practical Approach to Delivering Sweet Flavor Without Calories
Co-Presenters:  Zal Taleyarkhan,  Corporate Research Chef, Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations (CBCI)  and Jenn Farrell, Director of R&D, Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations (CBCI)

Blending culinary and food science techniques, our two speakers will discuss different approaches to reducing or replacing sugar in formulations with nonnutritive sweeteners, naturally occurring sugars, fibers, and flavor enhancers through the lens of a product developer. Focusing on formulation creation and ingredient identification, they will dive into the importance of flavor building and formula modification from a culinary and gold-standard perspective. Also, learn to go beyond the usual adjustments to match texture, mouthfeel, and taste. Finally, they will examine the scale-up and commercialization of formulas to maintain optimal flavor delivery in end products.


Heavy Metals – Closer to Reality
Co-Presenters: Walter Brandl, Regional Director of Chemistry – North America, Mérieux NutriSciences and Bill Adams, MBA, Product Manager, Mérieux NutriSciences – North America

The Food and Drug Administration’s new Closer to Zero initiative focuses on the exposure of heavy metal contaminants in commonly eaten foods by infants and children. Due to new forthcoming regulations, it is important for manufacturers to know the challenges and practical implications of this initiative from a technical, regulatory, and reality-based perspective. This discussion will cover the appropriate methods and instrumentation for heavy metal analysis, the new regulations and the limits of detection that manufacturers will be required to meet, and the typical expected levels of metal contaminants commonly found in various food types.


Clean Label Trends & Consumer Purchase Behavior
Presenter: Kasey Farrell, Senior Manager of the Product Intelligence R&D, SPINS

Clean label trends and new product formulations continue to evolve to meet the needs of the value-driven consumer. Today’s customer is more knowledgeable and interested in understanding the product content they choose to purchase and also the brands they support. Beyond easily recognizable ingredients and free from claims, brands are increasingly paying attention to their ingredient sourcing, their organization’s mission, and environmental impact during production and distribution. New certifications and novel and more sustainable ingredients are driving innovation in this new concept of clean.

Technology Snapshot List

The Clean Label Conference Technology Snapshots breakout sessions were 15-minute ingredient supplier presentations on the technical benefits of their new “clean label” ingredient. They provide R&D with useful technical information. The presentations are chosen by an independent Advisory Panel with experience in product development and degrees in Food Science or Biochemistry.

2023 Clean Label Post Conference Magazine Sponsor Profiles

A listing of the sponsors of this publication along with their profiles and relevant links. All are dedicated to the goal of assisting in the formulation and production of clean label foods, beverages and supplements.


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