Consumers Demand Clean and Green

Consumers Demand Clean and Green

November 15, 2017

By Judy Seybold, MS, RD, LD – VP Nutrition Science & Innovations

Consumers continue to seek more natural, cleaner products; sales of natural products have doubled in the past decade according to SPINS data. This trend has gone mainstream, but why now?

In the U.S., a decline in our healthcare system is driving consumers to take greater accountability for their own health, which we see in the form of online searches and self-diagnosis. People are utilizing easier access to health-related information from podcasts, bloggers, and other health celebrities, and they are actively engaging with brands through social media. Online shopping is rapidly transforming the way we think, behave, and purchase products. 

Products are moving in two directions due to mounting consumer pressure. First, they are increasingly holistic with a greater consideration for global impact on the marketplace, brand mission statements, and social connectivity, with fair-trade claims up by 10% over the past year. Additionally, they’re featuring cleaner ingredient panels with fewer ingredients, ingredients consumers can pronounce, and a back-to-basics approach to sourcing and development. Multiple certifications on a single product, such as organic, non-GMO, and raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones, help to build consumer confidence in brands.

This holistic product management is a trend that will continue to grow as shoppers hold companies socially responsible for helping the world. Shoppers want insight into brand missions, ingredient sourcing, manufacturing practices, and more. In response, SPINS data reflects a 7% increase in Certified B Corp products with fair-trade claims.2 The emphasis on clean sourcing and manufacturing has opened our eyes to the fact that our earth’s soils are becoming significantly deficient of many essential nutrients, which is stimulating interest and investment into both regenerative agriculture (helping replenish existing soils) as well as Controlled Environmental Agriculture (CEA). CEA is a system whereby plants can be grown in absence of soil, sunlight, and pesticides, meeting demands for more nutrient-dense foods to supply what we’re missing in our daily consumption.

The impact for RDs is clear. It’s never been more important to have access to product information and provide full transparency. The emphasis on ‘clean’ elevates the need to stay current on ingredient trends as questions will increasingly arise from consumers looking to eliminate the latest “toxic ingredient”. Dietitians should also have a “clean” or “free from” product list available so that they can quickly and confidently point shoppers in the right direction in any category. 

The trend toward clean, sustainable products isn’t just about food. SPINS data shows the same movement for fewer ingredients, banned-ingredient awareness, and social responsibility is driving a 12% increase in sales of organic body care products in the Natural Channel. Natural, clean, transparent –whatever you choose to call it – is here to stay, as we all seek solutions for a healthier planet and population. 

Judy Seybold is Vice President of Nutrition Science & Innovation at SPINS, a passionate advocate of brands and retailers that promote healthy living. As the leading provider of retail consumer insights, analytics reporting, and consulting services for the Natural, Organic, and Specialty Products Industry, its business offerings are helping retailers in this high-growth area to connect people with the brands that they need and love. Learn more at