The Clean Capsule Revolution
hat are Clean Label Capsules?
Clean label capsules can be best described as a consumer-driven movement that places a high priority on having natural and easy to comprehend ingredients (1). The aim is to make a more 'wholesome' product created due to the need for greater transparency.
1. Well-known and easy to pronounce names of ingredients or relevant excipients.
2. The country of origin for the corresponding ingredient/excipient is easily viewable by the consumer.
3. The ingredient is able to elicit a "positive emotion" from the consumer.
Why Consumers are Moving to Clean Label Capsules
The Rise of the Ethical Consumer
The clean label movement can be attributed to the constant evolution of today's modern and more ethical consumer. The modern consumer has ever-changing wants and desires that over time have been extending further up a company's supply chain. This new wave of ethical consumers is pushing companies to ensure that their products and internal processes meet today's higher ethical standards (which has risen even higher due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic). A recent report by the consultancy firm Accenture (2), notes that 60% of consumers are making more environmentally sustainable and ethical purchases, and 9 out of 10 of those respondents note that they will continue to do so (2). Hence this greater consumer need is paving the way for clean label capsules and will likely continue its rise in the future.
The Lack of Consumer Trust Driving Need for Greater Transparency
Another key underlying factor in the rise of clean label is the corresponding lack of trust that modern-day consumers have with pharmaceutical and complementary medicine companies (3). A big part of why trust levels are low is because most of the time consumers lack the "technical knowledge" of what their capsules contain. Hence the move to clean label capsules is able to bypass this issue as clean label capsule excipients are more straightforward as it only uses ingredients that are well known by the user and are proven to have attached health benefits (3) Overall this removes the ambiguity that may plague the consumer's mind regarding more complex products.
Greater Priority of Health and Wellbeing
An additional by-product that had been created by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the greater priority and attention that consumers have put on their health and wellbeing. A recent study by Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) has found that 77% of global consumers want to do more to stay healthy (4) and 48% say they will purchase more items related to health and wellness in order to main healthy (4). Additionally, this new demand brought on by the recent pandemic has helped strengthen the clean label movement due to its cleaner and higher quality persona.
Clean Label Throughout the Years
The idea of "clean label" got its first start in the 1980s when consumers started to avoid products using E-numbers which were found on various food labels. This was due to the general consensus that food additives were associated with negative health effects (5). But the actual term "clean label" saw the greatest rise in the early 2000s (5), which is likely in response to the greater worldwide use of the internet, giving consumers greater access to information.
Hence since its initial upsurge, the interest in clean labelling has only grown, leading to a variety of companies adopting the trend, including large pharmaceutical manufacturing companies (6). Now thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic the clean label movement has only gone to new heights, as consumers have a renewed focus on their health, which has seen a corresponding increase in Vitamin and Supplement sales, which according to Numerator's consumer health trends report is up 24% in yearly sales in 2020 in comparison to 2019 (7).
Future Projections of Clean Label
In 2018 the global clean label market was valued at $38.8 billion (8) and current market experts are expecting the clean label market to continue to grow with a compound annual growth rate of 6.75% within the next four years (9). The Asia Pacific market is expected to see the greatest increase, with China being the biggest possible market mainly due to the Chinese consumers experiencing a significant increase in their standards of living (9).
But many experts warn that this future growth may be constrained by the expensive nature of clean label products, as clean label products tend to be more expensive due to their use of higher quality ingredients (8), coupled with the fact that clean label products tend to have a shorter shelf life. These factors may signal some risks not just to future growth but to the industry as a whole which manufacturers and innovation experts will need to overcome. But this will ultimately be up to the consumer because if future demand continues to rise, then the limits of the clean capsule market may soar to even greater heights.
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1. Biogrund, n.d. The Clean Label Definition for Food Supplements - Biogrund. [online] Biogrund. Available at: https://www.biogrund.com/clean-label-definition/?lang=en [Accessed 8 June 2021].
2. Accenture, 2020. How will COVID-19 change the consumer?. [online] Accenture.com. Available at: https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/PDF-134/Accenture-COVID-19-Pulse-Survey-Wave7.pdf%20-%20zoom=40 [Accessed 8 June 2021].
3. Rindell, A., Strandvik, T. and Wilén, K., 2014. Ethical consumers' brand avoidance. Journal of Product & Brand Management, [online] 23(2), pp.114-120. Available at: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JPBM-09-2013-0392/full/html [Accessed 8 June 2021].
4. Poinski, M., 2021. Consumer trends shifting toward health and wellness, ADM finds. [online] Food Dive. Available at: [Accessed 8 June 2021].
5. Asioli, D., Aschemann-Witzel, J., Caputo, V., Vecchio, R., Annunziata, A., Næs, T. and Varela, P., 2017. Making sense of the "clean label" trends: A review of consumer food choice behavior and discussion of industry implications. Food Research International, [online] 99, pp.58-71. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0963996917303435 [Accessed 8 June 2021].
6. Alliance, C., 2021. About The Alliance. [online] Clean Label Alliance. Available at: https://www.cleanlabelalliance.com/about/ [Accessed 8 June 2021].
7. Numerator, 2021. 2021 Consumer Health Trends Tracker | Numerator. [online] Numerator.com. Available at: https://www.numerator.com/health-trends [Accessed 8 June 2021].
8. Kadam, A. and Deshmukh, R., 2021. Clean Label Ingredients Market Size, Share & Trends | Report Forecast, 2026. [online] Allied Market Research. Available at: https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/clean-label-ingredients-market [Accessed 8 June 2021].
9. ltd, R., 2021. Clean Label Ingredients Market - Growth, Trends and Forecast (2020 - 2025). [online] Researchandmarkets.com. Available at: https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/4771850/clean-label-ingredients-market-growth-trends [Accessed 8 June 2021].