The Growing Demand for Clean Label Foods

Consumers are more finicky than ever before when it comes to the ingredients in the foods that they eat. Many consumers go into restaurants, smoothie bars, and the like expecting every establishment to have a host of food and drink options that cater to their particular allergies and sensitivities.

The average American consumer knows more about both their own bodies, as well as the ingredients that go into many commonly prepared foods and drinks. Many consumers now expect products to not only taste good but to also align with their individual health needs.

Moreover, restaurants and smoothie bars have to be more conscientious than ever about what goes into their products. The 21st-century landscape continues to be highly litigious, and a drink mix that happens to cross-contaminate with a particular allergen has the potential to get an establishment sued. It’s incumbent on eateries that they know exactly what is going into every food and drink option, and advise customers accordingly.

This article will explain why clean-label foods - including gluten-free, lactose-free, and non-GMO, among others - have taken hold in the modern marketplace and how restaurants and eateries need to adjust some of their practices to match this new ethic. In many cases, finding a company that does commercial blending near Denver can provide a solution for many of these problems.

The Rise of Food Allergies

Food allergies are nothing new, but people are more cognizant than ever before about which foods cause digestive problems, skin problems, or other milder forms of allergic reaction. Because they are in a service sector, restaurants and eateries have had to adjust on the fly, in some cases altering time-honored recipes in the interest of removing harmful or irritating ingredients.

Some of the more common food allergies today include soy, nuts, dairy or lactose, gluten or wheat, and eggs. For reasons that go beyond the scope of this article, people have gotten progressively more intolerant of certain food allergens and take drastic steps to ensure that these allergens aren’t present in the foods that they consume.

To wit, multiple reports from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) have confirmed that food allergies and sensitivities have spiked a whopping 50% in children in the last 25 years. Today, more than one in 15 children and young adults has some kind of food allergy or insensitivity, and restaurants relying on prepackaged blends may need to reconsider not only their recipes but also their entire way of doing business, in some cases.

While some consumers have stuck to the tried-and-true method of strict avoidance - meaning eliminating any possible source of an allergen such as soy - many consumers want to have their cake and eat it too, sometimes literally. Plenty of consumers will want bakeries to offer gluten-free cupcakes or something similar, and this has driven businesses through the food and drink industry to try finding cost-effective solutions to a growing problem.

One growing solution has been to order pre-packaged blends and mixes free from common contaminants. Custom spice and drink blends have become popular in Denver and across the U.S., as restaurants can adapt to the current food allergy problem in a number of different ways:

  • Restaurants and eateries can create consistent, non-allergenic blends, and disperse these blends in powder form to each of their locations. This process also helps standardize flavor and keep the taste of a drink, smoothie, and restaurant dish consistent from location to location.
  • The best private label blending companies near Denver can reverse-engineer flavors, removing common allergens from recipes such as wheat or milk while matching flavors almost identically.

While restaurants will have a number of unique considerations based on the product they sell, the movement toward private label blending and packaging in both Denver and the rest of the United States has become a promising solution for the growing issues related to food allergies or sensitivities.

More on Clean Label Foods

While some consumers are keeping certain food allergens out of their diets strictly for their own well-being, others are opting to remove certain food ingredients as a way to lose weight or proactively maintain their own health. As with everything else, the average American citizen is now armed with a wealth of fitness and health information, and fad dietary approaches such as the keto and paleo diets gain followers daily.

Restaurants are forced to respond by not only changing the ingredients of certain products - for instance, offering a sugar-free alternative to cater to the keto crowd - but also giving consumers presence of mind by placing labels such as “free from artificial ingredients” or “GMO-free” on the majority of their products. This concept has come to be known as “clean-labeling.”

Pre-packaged and pre-prepared foods with clean labels are nothing new, as manufacturers have been slapping labels such as “fat-free” or “sugar-free” on products such as pudding mixes and sports drinks for years. But these labels are no longer specific enough for the modern consumer, who typically also needs to know if a food or drink product contains lactose, gluten, soy, and so on.

Companies that manufacture pre-packaged products such as pudding mixes have their own challenges, but restaurants and eateries need to be especially vigilant. While the process of removing an allergen and standardizing a product is fairly simple in the case of a gelatin manufacturer, a restaurant may need to overhaul their entire menu, scouring each menu item and determining any and all allergens that may be present in a particular offering.

Again, bigger eateries and restaurants are finding that carefully considered spice or ingredient blends are the most effective way to tackle this new problem. Blends allow eateries and restaurants of all sizes to keep flavors consistent, while also removing common food allergens and keeping food costs palatable.

Having an array of clean label food and drink options available for consumers is becoming mandatory for eateries and restaurants who not only show dedication to consumer preferences but also want to remain viable in the marketplace. In many cases, a well-considered private label blend is the best way to meet these various challenges.