Meet new demands for ‘clean label’ foods with products kids love

From General Mills.

Consumers are demanding that the foods they buy have less of what they don’t want—artificial colors and flavors, gluten and processed grains—and are also looking to add foods with specific health benefits. In fact, 49% of households are making an effort to avoid artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources, according to a Nielsen survey conducted on behalf of General Mills. And in 2015, Food Business News named “clean label” its top trend of the year.

So, what exactly does clean label mean? It means foods with fewer, more recognizable ingredients that are easy to pronounce (“cream” instead of “microparticulated whey protein concentrate,” for example) and clear ingredient origins. That extends to containing no artificial flavors or colors, as well as fewer preservatives.

As a group, millennials are helping drive the movement toward cleaner labels in retail food outlets. Harvard Business Review points toward millennials as being twice as likely as other generation to read food labels. But more importantly for foodservice operators, millennials are the parents of many school kids today. Their preferences for items with no (or fewer) additives extends to their expectations for foods served to their children at school.

Kids today, like kids of every generation, want familiar foods with good flavor. General Mills is working to help foodservice professionals meet changing preferences with products that kids love—making it easy to meet new demands with familiar favorites that taste and look the same as always. General Mills is using more recognizable ingredients—such as fruit and vegetable juices, spice extracts and natural flavors—to create the colors and flavors in the products that kids (and their parents) know and love, as well as to meet new clean label standards.

Many familiar favorites, such as Yoplait yogurts, are already free from artificial colors and flavors. This year, General Mills is removing artificial flavors and colors from its line of popular Pillsbury hot breakfast items. Mini Pancakes, Mini Bagels, Frudel and Mini Cinnis will be ready in time for back to school in 2016, while Mini French Toast and Mini Waffles will be shipping to distributors in early November.

“We know that schools are looking closely at the labels on the products they serve to kids,” said Danielle Benson, associate K-12 channel manager at General Mills Foodservice. “General Mills Foodservice is proud to offer the same hot breakfast options with no artificial flavors or colors from artificial sources, so schools can feel even better about serving kids the items they love.”

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