Private Label Opportunities for Better-for-You and Affordable Indulgences
Today’s food climate has shown strong shopper desires for both better-for-you products and affordable indulgences. In order to get a better understanding of the dynamics at play in these areas of food—and discern some opportunities for private label—we asked Evan Hyman, business development manager, private label for Ingredion, to share some of his knowledge and perspective.
PLBuyer: Which typically indulgent edible products work best redesigned as better-for-you products, without sacrificing shopper appeal?
Evan Hyman: As a global food ingredient company, we have the unique view that we work with our ingredients across multiple categories, including both indulgent and better-for-you categories. For example, we have been very successful in removing fat from products like indulgent brownies, and we can use our sensory capability to maintain consistent texture, mouthfeel and taste.
PLBuyer: Which indulgent or better-for-you products do you find have the opportunity to drive shopper loyalty via a private label offering?
Evan Hyman: One category we have seen significant interest in the private label space is within gluten-free baked goods. Retailers are realizing the consumer appeal of gluten-free products, beyond just those who have celiac disease. We have worked with multiple manufacturers to formulate products such as gluten-free cookies that are indulgent and have positive consumer appeal.
PLBuyer: Which shoppers do better-for-you snacks appeal to?
Evan Hyman: Nearly all consumers are looking to get more out of their snacks or for guilt-free snacking, but products must still meet taste expectations.
PLBuyer: Which ingredients pair well with better-for-you indulgences?
Evan Hyman: We have a broad portfolio of ingredient solutions that can be used in indulgent products, whether manufacturers are looking to add nutrition and value or remove sugar, fats and oils for more meaningful label claims.
Our portfolio includes nutrition ingredients like prebiotics, resistant starch and more, nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners and texturizers—many of which are clean label and non-GMO.
PLBuyer: When should the product just seamlessly improve nutritionals, and when should retailers call out nutritional improvements on these products?
Evan Hyman: This is really up to the retailer. Every retailer takes a different approach to their level of claims that they make on the label. Our ingredients and DIAL-IN® approach to sweetness and texture technologies set a manufacturer up for success by identifying and being able to make specific claims, such around low fat and reduced sugar. Our clean label NOVATION® starches label as simple ingredients, so these products can be used to allow for clean label claims, which we have seen more of with retail.
PLBuyer: What are the popular front-of-label claims that consumers are looking for in indulgent, yet better-for-you snacks?
Evan Hyman: Low calorie count, simple labels, natural claims, added nutrients are a few examples of appealing front-of-pack claims.
PLBuyer: Are shoppers looking more for reduced-calorie or zero-calorie options in better-for-you indulgent products?
Evan Hyman: As an ingredient company, we offer a variety of solutions for reduced-calorie and zero-calorie products. We have seen consistent demand for products like our ENLITEN® Reb-A stevia, which allows for these reduced-calorie options.
PLBuyer: How can retailers capitalize on the growing gluten-free trend via bite-sized indulgences?
Evan Hyman: Ingredion has taken significant time to develop gluten-free solutions. We think of this like gluten free 2.0, which is not to just help with the formulation of gluten-free products, but provide gluten-free products that also taste good. We are now seeing retailers and brands in the marketplace launch gluten-free products across multiple categories, such as bread, baking mixes, crackers, cookies and pretzels. Consumers who are looking for gluten-free products are the same as any other consumers in that they are interested in good-tasting products, so we focus on formulating high-quality, good-tasting products that are also gluten-free. We have a variety of starch-based ingredients that are often used as the base of gluten-free products.
PLBuyer: Do you suggest retailers create traditionally indulgent gluten-free private label lines or offer gluten-free products within their current better-for-you sets?
Evan Hyman: We have seen retailers do both. At this time, this is the current debate within retail—separate section or integrated set. As one of the main drivers for gluten-free growth will be among those who are generally interested in health and wellness, anything a retailer can do initially to have exposure throughout the store is going to be very helpful for consumer acceptance. This would include dedicated endcaps, set integration and potential sampling. Also, a big trend and overall interest we are seeing is that retailers want to move gluten-free products that would traditionally have ended up in the freezer case out of that section to the main sections of the store. This would apply to products such as bread, for example. We are consistently working with manufacturers to help them improve their formulations to compete in the main sections, such as bakery.
PLBuyer: How does food texture design play a part in better-for-you indulgences?
Mary Lynne V. Shafer, global marketing director, texture, for Ingredion: Within indulgence the desired experience goes far beyond just the eating experience. It is an experience that starts pre-eat, continues during and stays with you after (“i.e., 3 hours to prepare, 30 seconds in your mouth and forever in your head”). It is important to create anticipation (pre-eat: sense of expectation & excitement), maximization (during: extend and intensify the moment) and extension (after: extend the pleasure sensation).
Indulgence is a predominant emotional driven need and more than in any other needs the combination of packaging design, formats, taste, texture, service … all play an integral part of the enjoyment experience.
In order to create a better-for-you indulgence, all the senses should be activated (multi-sensorial + multi-dimensional), and texture is a key contributor in accentuating the appearance, the actual taste of the final product and "fun in your mouth" experience that all indulgences should offer, yet without the guilt so a consumer can go back again and again to enjoy.
The key to having a successful better-for-you indulgent experience is not only gleaning those consumer emotional needs and wants but objectively linking these to the sensorial and rheological attributes that will drive an authentic formulation that meets both customer and consumer goals. Ingredion's DIAL-IN® Texture Technology is a comprehensive approach that enables manufacturers to target and achieve the precise food texture they desire in their product in a fraction of the time it takes for typical texture explorations.
One of the fundamental capabilities of the DIAL-IN approach is our TEXICON food texture language. The TEXICON language translates the consumer experience of texture into precise, measurable, scientific terms that allow us to help you quickly target and achieve the food texture you seek. Texture is the enabler for meeting a consumer's emotional desire for indulgence while satisfying a health-driven need for purchase repeatability.
PLBuyer: Can private label better-for-you products deliver the texture and flavor consumers are looking for and still offer desirable margins, or are these products seen more as loyalty drivers?
Evan Hyman: Yes. We have seen that retailers are now looking beyond national-brand-equivalent products. Because retailers own the shelf space, they have a unique opportunity to try things that national brands traditionally will not do.