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Clean eating has pushed food makers to use ingredients you can recognize

Mark A Leman | Moment Mobile | Getty Images

Demand for clean, healthy grub has spurred the use of "pure commodities" - ingredients you can actually recognize, such as fruits and eggs - in packaged food and drinks, a new report found.

Market research firm Euromonitor said global consumption of pure commodities rose 2 percent on-year in 2015, on the back of an ongoing health and wellness trend.

Pure commodities is a term used for recognizable ingredients, such as eggs, fruits, nuts, juices, fish and meat, rather than food additives such as "e-numbers." Last year, 1.2 billion tons of these pure commodities went into packaged food and drinks.

"Clean labels remains a dominant trend in food and drinks, and is set to become more important in beauty and personal care," John Madden, head of ingredients at Euromonitor International, said.

Clean labels generally resulted in simpler, shorter ingredient lists, a trend Madden expected to continue.

"The clean label tag can mean many things but at its heart is consumers having trust in the products they consume, and an understanding that they are beneficial and safe," Madden said. "The use of natural ingredients and the removal of artificial and more controversial ingredients, such as certain preservatives and antimicrobials, continues."

While demand for commodities worldwide was driving the trend, Asia Pacific's share for pure commodities was the largest at one-third of the total pie, according to Euromonitor data.

A survey by Nielsen released Thursday found some 70 percent of Chinese respondents said they followed a diet that limited or prohibited consumption of some food and ingredients, such as artificial additives. More than 80 percent also said they were willing to pay more for food with no undesirable ingredients.

"As urbanization in China continues and the middle-class population grows, quality of life will continue to improve. Chinese consumers want to buy foods that can make them healthier, but they can't do it alone," said Yan Xuan, president of Nielsen Greater China, said, adding that packaged food and drink companies should take the opportunity to cater to this growing segment.

Among food that were most favored by Chinese consumers were those that were all-natural, organic and free from genetic modification. The most undesirable ingredients were artificial flavoring, preservatives, coloring and sweeteners, Nielsen found.

Similar changes in the make-up of personal care products are expected, as consumers increasingly favor natural ingredients.

Demand for botanicals such as plant extracts in health and beauty products are expected to rise by a compound annual growth rate of 3 percent by 2020, as they are increasingly used in skincare, hair care and sun protection products, replacing synthetic ingredients, Euromonitor forecast.

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