Poultry, poultry, on the shelf, which has the cleanest label of them all? So goes the retail food shopper’s quest to avoid their taboos for food ingredients and additives.

This shows up in shoppers’ in-store behavior and purchases, as consumers increasingly scrutinize labels, seeking poultry and other foods that are free of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and sweeteners, and free of hormones and antibiotics. More often, products with specific marketing claims are going in their carts.

Nielsen Product Insider reports that clean label foods and beverages account for 30 percent share of food and beverage sales and grew 5.6 percent of dollar sales over the last five years.

Sales growth through product transparency    

Nielsen data, in fact, suggest that smaller food manufacturers are growing faster than larger competitors by bringing products to market that address consumers’ desire for clean labels. This is an opportunity squarely in the wheelhouse of poultry producers.

The global ingredients survey shows 73 percent of respondents said they feel positively about companies that are transparent about their product sourcing; 68 percent are willing to pay more for food and beverages that don’t contain undesirable ingredients; and 64 percent of consumers’ diets prohibit certain ingredients.

Premium price points for clean labels

The analysis showed that as smaller companies put a great emphasis on health and wellness to meet consumer demand for transparency, they can sell products at premium price points. It also shows that smaller and private-label manufacturers commanded sales while promoting their products less than larger companies. In 2016, sales sold on promotion accounted for 40 percent of large manufacturers’ dollar volume, compared with 27 percent of small manufacturers’ dollar volume.

Capitalizing on this trend, Nielsen notes, also potentially opens more shelf space to food marketers offering products differentiated by health and wellness and clean labels.

Deflation masking retail growth trends

Nielsen reports that despite what might seem like a gloomy scenario for the U.S. retail industry at large, deflation is masking healthy growth trends, including the long-term shift toward fresh foods and consumers’ focus on transparency. As prices rebound, the heathy eating trends will drive further sales growth.