On March 24, Roka exhibited at the Western New York IFT Food Industry Expo in Rochester, NY. During our time at the expo, I was afforded the opportunity to participate as a guest speaker discussing difficult food matrices and the validation and verification process.
Alongside me were two other presenters, one of whom introduced the concept of consumer concerns regarding “clean labels,” and how there is a fear of food labels currently being “dirty.”
No official definition for “clean label” exists, however Mathieu Dondain provides the following definition: “consumer demand for products free of complicated and chemical-sounding additives made with short and understandable ingredient lists and minimal processing.”
Seems straight forward, right? Most consumers desire a product comprised of ingredients which they can pronounce (no ‘x’ or ‘z’ as Michelle pointed out), and have a broad understanding of how components work together to bring forth a final product. Wrong…a quick internet search will turn up several examples of consumer concern about ingredients that aren’t hard to pronounce.
I walked away from the expo wondering how products can be marketed in a manner that is understandable to a non-scientist. As food scientists, researchers, sales personnel, etc. we have to find a way to gain consumer confidence. To steer people away from the thought of “eating bread that contains products used to make yoga mats” – just because someone posted it to the internet. Social media will be a huge tool in relaying information to the general public, and as an industry we have to make a concerted effort to help change the mindset.
Overall, the expo was a great opportunity (my first time attending a food industry meeting as a non-student), and I’m looking forward to attending more in the near future.
Here's a preview of my presentation.