Transparency is a powerful purchasing driver for consumers these days. Many are actively seeking out products that promote sustainability, organic and natural ingredients, as well as clean and clearer labels. The past decade has seen increased interest for clean labels. In fact, the global clean label ingredients market is projected to reach US$ 72.7 billion by the end of 2029, with Asia Pacific expected to emerge a more attractive market due to the region’s impressive economic growth in the past couple of years. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in demand for more sustainable and organic foods. Now, more than ever before, consumers want to make ethical and healthier choices. With one in two consumers looking at the ingredients list on products before buying2 , what goes into our food and drink has never been so important.
This growing trend gives way to an opportunity, as well as a challenge for manufacturers to cater to the rising demand for clean label products. At the same time, they need to continue to ensure their products maintain the same quality — sensorially and technically.
Meeting evolving consumer demands
Additives play an important role in food production as they help to maintain or improve freshness, taste, texture, or appearance which can become a challenge to achieve with natural or minimally treated ingredients. However, many manufacturers are now taking a second look at artificial additives, due to the growing demand for clean and clearer labels/more naturalness. With its range of functional rice starches, BENEO shows that it is possible to deliver what consumers are looking for.
So, what is a natural option to these artificial additives?
As a clean label whitening agent in confectionery coatings (e.g. chewing gum, hard candy, liquorice or chocolate lentils), BENEO’s rice starch provides a natural alternative moving away from artificial additives.
Besides its clean label status, rice starch also offers food producers many more benefits. A unique property of rice starch includes its small starch granule size. Its size, for example, ensures that rough surfaces of confectionery centres are smoothened. This so-called “smoothing effect” is especially beneficial for confectionery manufacturers during the production process of coating, since it ensures a stable result.
Furthermore, rice starch provides equal colour distribution, thus creating a natural whiteness. This helps manufacturers achieve that ‘bright white’ appearance in food coatings such as chewing gums, hard candies, and chocolate lentils. Technical trials at the BENEO-Technology Center have confirmed that rice starch offers high stability and maintenance of a brilliant white colour of an end product for several months. This goes a long way in meeting both consumers’ and manufacturers’ requirements.
In fat reduced fillings such as pralines, it creates a creamy texture because it mimics the mouthfeel, structure, and texture of a full-fat filling. This is due to the fact that the starch granules are comparable to fat globules (2-8 µm), and have the ability to bind with liquid fat.
As rice starch exhibits such unique functionalities naturally, the ingredient caters for clean label, while meeting the needs of food manufacturers such as pleasant textures, increased shelf-life, improved product stability, and exceptional whiteness.
Additionally, technical trials by the BENEO-Technology Center have shown that functional rice starch can also cater for cleaner labels in a variety of other applications including baked goods and products that need to undergo severe processing conditions, such as sauces and dressings.
The way forward to better living
The benefits of using rice starch to help create clean-label, gluten-free, non-GMO and no-additives products are evident. Also, rice is widely considered a familiar and natural product, with 61% of consumers worldwide seeing rice starch as natural4. Increasingly, consumers associate naturalness with health and want their food made from natural ingredients and as unprocessed as possible.
In light of the recent Covid-19 pandemic, it is highly likely this trend will be accelerated even further as a result of the increased consumer understanding of, and interest in, the link between nutrition and health.
 Future Market Insights (2020) Global Clean Label Ingredients Market to Reach US$ 72.7 Bn by 2029. https://www.futuremarketinsights.com/reports/clean-label-ingredients-market
BENEO Clean Label Consumer Research 2018, conducted by Haystack in Germany, UK, USA (N=3000 (1000/country).
WHO (2018) Food additives. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/food-additives
HFI Global Trend Study 2018
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