Grocery retailers are being urged to re-think how they present clean label products, after a report warned that they are in danger of misleading customers.

The report, “The Clean Label Phenomenon for Food Retailers: Enhancing Transparency for Consumers,” sponsored by Food Marking Institute (FMI), Arlington, Va., and Solutions for Retail Brands, Inc. (S4RB), Fort Worth, Texas, and written by Kieran Forsey, co-founder and CEO of S4RB, says the clean labelling phenomenon has become a “moving target” for retailers as consumer demand for transparency soars.

With no uniform definition of clean labelling across the industry, retailers are urged to strike a balance between providing detailed nutritional information and ensuring that labels remain clear and easy-to-understand.

“Driven by the powerful Millennial market, we are seeing unprecedented demand for products that contain fewer but more recognizable ingredients,” says Forsey. “As the ‘free from’ lists continue to grow, people are increasingly turning away from anything with artificial preservatives, GMOs and ‘chemicals’ they don’t trust. Instead they are looking for authenticity, transparency and integrity throughout the supply chain.

“Our findings indicate that many national and private brands are now actively developing products that meet this initial demand, but all brands need to recognize this is only the start of the journey toward greater transparency—we’ve identified 10 steps to help them on this journey.

“These include listening more deeply to customer feedback and collating consumer insights, whether from online reviews, call center feedback or product testing, as well as encouraging greater supplier engagement to maintain best practice. These measures will ensure innovative, high-quality goods continue to be produced.

“Above all, it’s about communicating positive product attributes, like organic or GMO-free, and the real stories behind the products to drive sales and confidence without bombarding people with too much information.”