Are you more likely to buy a food product if the label contains the word “natural?” If so, you’re like many shoppers who find appeal and assurance in a term that food manufacturers love to use.
It’s a simple but effective qualifier for a product, especially as consumers are more concerned with the ingredients, processing, and origins of their food and drink.
Though the word “natural” can connote a lot of things, such as healthy, wholesome, and nutritious, in the food industry, “natural” remains mostly undefined. That could change however, as the FDA tries to determine whether it’s time for a policy update on the term “natural”.
The agency has recently extended the deadline for public comments on the matter. Will the extension and resulting feedback change the food industry?
When The Public Weighs In
While “natural” is somewhat ambiguous when it comes to food production, packaging, and marketing, not just anyone can use the term to describe their product.
According to the FDA, foods that are labeled as “natural” cannot contain artificial or synthetic ingredients, such as added chemical colorings and flavorings.
There are other food factors that aren’t yet addressed by this criteria, such as use of high fructose corn syrup, pasteurization, genetically modified ingredients, pesticides, and others.
After the Natural Products Association requested they do so, the FDA has said that it would extend the deadline for public comments on the issue from February 10 to May 10 of this year.
Why Does “Natural” Matter?
This one little word could become a major concern for food and beverage manufacturers throughout the United States. If the labeling criteria for the term “natural” changes, it would mean serious rebranding and production changes for many food and beverage producers.
The FDA’s definition of “natural” has not changed since1993. Considering how many companies and products have changed and become available since then, and how consumer trends have shifted towards healthier, holistic, and organic products in the last two decades, we could be on the cusp of a real food industry game changer.
If the FDA changes what “natural” means, will it affect your company?
Do you think we’re overdue for a current definition on this popular marketing term?