Specific ‘free-from’ claims trump more vague ‘natural’ label

Mintel research reveals there was a whopping 366% increase in GMO-free claims on natural product launches in Canada from 2007 to 2017


It may not be enough to just call something “natural” anymore, as an increasing number of foods feature more specific claims such as GMO-free or preservative-free, according to Mintel research.

In fact, the Mintel Global New Products Database reveals that there was a whopping 366% increase in GMO-free claims on natural food and drink launches in Canada from 2007 to 2017. At the same time, “no additives/preservatives” claims grew by 21%, while less specific claims like “all natural product” declined by 62%.

Recent research from Mintel shows there’s some confusion among consumers surrounding what natural and organic actually mean—shoppers are almost as likely to agree that natural/organic foods offer clear benefits as they are to call foods with natural/organic claims a gimmick (22% vs 19%).

Consumers seem to be able to more easily identify organic claims as compared to natural claims, however. For example, shoppers are significantly more likely to consider organic products as being free of pesticides (53% vs. 35% natural), free of preservatives (46% vs. 39%) and free from hormones (41% vs. 30%).

“Natural claims are evolving to provide greater clarity about the benefits of these products as consumers increasingly demand total transparency from food and drink companies,” said Joel Gregoire, associate director, Canada food and drink reports at Mintel, in a release.

“Manufacturers, companies and brands are responding by providing more defined positioning, including substituting vague claims like ‘all natural’ in favour of more specific claims such as ‘GMO-free’ or ‘preservative-free.’ As such, focusing on free-from positioning appears to be a more direct means to communicate the inherent value of natural/organic products.”