SHIFT20: Brands rediscovered during pandemic may need updated, clean labels to keep new shoppers, says DDW

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty / AlexRaths
Source: Getty / AlexRaths

Related tags IFT 2020 Natural colors Clean label Coronavirus Organic

To keep consumers who discovered center-of-the-store products during the early pantry-stocking days of the pandemic from reverting to their pre-coronavirus shopping preferences, brands that have not already done so should update formulas and labels quickly with natural, consumer-friendly ingredients, advises an expert with the color house DDW.

“During the pandemic, grocery stores are carrying fewer new, quirky and niche products, and focusing on key brands that are selling so that they can get people the staples they need. And as a result, what is happening is some key brands that might have lacked a little shine or luster are being rediscovered. Some center-of-the-store canned goods, sauces and gravies, have gotten a new customer base, which his really exciting for some companies,”​ said Connie Sandusky, global marketing and product management of functional food ingredients at DDW.

But, she explained, if those brands have not been updated with clean labels yet because they were not top-sellers or a high priority for refurbishing before the pandemic, then they are at risk of losing those consumers to products with clean labels once retailers restock with the variety available before the outbreak.

“This is an opportunity to make those labels as appealing as possible and optimized for a more modern consumer”​ who prefers natural, familiar-sounding ingredients, Sandusky said.

To help brands in this predicament, DDW will showcase at IFT’s virtual summit this month, a line of new Naturebrown colors and its newly expanded organic product line, Sandusky said. DDW also will focus on tried-and-true tools that make manufacturing easier and more efficient so that companies can continue to meet increased consumer demand for their products, she added.

New colors and organics

To help brands clean-up products as well as create new options for modern consumers focused on natural, DDW will showcase at IFT an expanded line-up of organic options, including a new organic certified Naturebrown that is derived from fruit juice, a certified organic spirulina and nature-identical beta carotene.

Sandusky said the new Naturebrown is “the most stable, completely natural brown out there. And while everybody has something, this one is really, really successful in a wide range of applications as well as a wide range of pH [levels] at delivering a the color intensity of a darker class one caramel brown.”

She attributes the brown line’s versatility to the range of fruits and vegetables used for its base. “We have browns that come from the vegetable space, like an onion, that is more appropriate for savory applications, and for beverages or other mild applications we have browns with an apple or other fruit base.”

Beyond the brown, the company’s new nature-identical beta carotene is as close to organic as possible, even though it isn’t certified as such, Sandusky said. She explained that beta carotene cannot be certified organic because it is fermented.

These build upon DDW’s existing line up of organic colors, which includes a red from a special corn hybrid that gives the manufacturer complete control over the supply chain.

“These new ingredients are ideal for the portion of the market that is still going to focus on certified organic or want super transparent, super clean labels or products with health benefits,”​ which likely will gain momentum as the pandemic continues and consumers look for products that will boost immunity and their health, Sandusky said.

Function is DDW’s first focus

Recognizing that many consumers and brands may forgo new products or their strict focus on clean label or organic in favor for “good, useful products that have a good price point and are useable”​ during the pandemic and recession, DDW also will focus at IFT on tried-and-true colors that will make life easier for the manufacturer.

For example, DDW’s EmulsiTech products turn typically fat-soluble pigments into water dispersible options that allow them to be used in multiple phases.

“This gives a manufacturer an opportunity to basically measure and stir and go. In the old days, with some of these products, you would have to heat them, melt them, measure small amounts – it was a very complicated procedure to get the pigment working for them. But these are ready to go and it is very successful in food products”​ not just beverages, Sandusky said.

She added the benefit of EmulsiTech is underscored by the rush for production many manufacturers have been managing since the pandemic began because it not only simplifies production by it can also simplify color selection. Likewise, it eases stress associated with sourcing colors from around the world while boards are closed and shipping issues associated with the pandemic persist.

“We’ve seen a lot of people looking for efficiencies and one way to do that might be by rationalizing colors from five or six to one or two annatto or beta carotene products that can offer multi-phase functional products,”​ she said.

Given these stresses, Sandusky said that DDW’s main message that it wants virtual visitors at IFT to take away is that it is there to help make manufacturers life easier and more efficient whether they are innovating or streamlining.

Connect with DDW​ at the virtual IFT show July 13-15.

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