The Ingredion group of companies have unveiled the results of its latest research into consumer attitudes towards clean label across various European countries.

Conducted by MMR Research across France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK, the new insights follow a 2012 study and demonstrate that European shoppers are continuing to pay attention to what is in the food that they consume, with demand for clean label products still strong.

Price remains the key qualifier in consumers’ purchasing decisions while the ingredient list is the number one differentiator for manufacturers, well ahead of brands, country of origin and other criteria. In half of the researched countries, the results show a further increase in consumers who regularly read the ingredients list compared to the previous year, including Italy (+3%), France (+6%) and UK (+6%), as well as a rise in those thinking it important to recognise ingredients on product labels (up by 8% in the UK).

‘Natural/all natural’ was found to be the most appealing claim for the majority of the 10,800 strong sample, with ‘no artificial ingredients’ the second most likely factor to make consumers consider switching brand.

In terms of regional differences, the research found that the impact of information and messages on packaging differs significantly across Europe. Therefore, it is important to be aware of these regional differences as a food and beverage producer in order to tailor your message accordingly.

For example, health claims and ingredients lists were found to be the most relevant in Spanish consumers’ purchasing decisions, whereas German consumers felt that an "organic" claim has a higher impact on a product’s appeal than other clean label or nutritional positionings. While the "brand" is now playing a stronger role in France – with an increase in importance of 10% compared to last year – the ingredient list still ranks higher in the impact on willingness to switch brands. Italian consumers, on the other hand, tend not to be very brand loyal and the other on-pack messages are of much more importance to them.

"Recognisable ingredients clearly listed on-pack enable consumers to feel confident in their purchasing decisions and able to better understand what is in the products they are buying and consuming," commented Cathrin Kurz, European marketing manager, wholesome EMEA, Ingredion Germany GmbH. "The results of this latest study illustrate that clean label as a trend keeps growing in importance in consumers’ purchasing decisions. Clean label positioning is an effective way of building consumer trust and is not to be underestimated by food manufacturers."