Healthy eating is increasingly present in consumers, who are aware of the importance of nutrition for their physical and mental wellbeing. This makes them aware and alert regarding the information contained in the labeling of the foods they eat.
According to figures from the Survey Chile Saludable -conducted by Fundación Chile along GFK Adimark during 2014 – 1 in 3 Chileans read the labels of the food they buy, and of those who read them, only 37% understand what is read. This data shows a priori a strong lack of interest by the population on information of the foods they are consuming.
In this scenario, Paulina Sazo, Product Manager of Fundacion Chile’s Food and Biotechnology, states that one way to achieve that Chileans become more aware of their food, is for there to be a larger availability of simple processed foods, that is to say, foods with less ingredients and components easier to understand. The goal, according to Paulina, is to join the global trend “clean labels”: labels with fewer ingredients, more familiar and understandable for the consumers and therefore with fewer artificial colors, preservatives, and additives.
“Clean labels” describe products made with familiar and understandable ingredients for the consumers, hence having fewer artificial colors, preservatives, and additives.
“If this is added to a campaign of powerful nutritional education at an educational institutions, workplaces and the media level, we would have more informed Chilean consumers, making more aware decisions at the time they eat and more concerned on their quality of life today, helping to minimize the increasing trend of obesity rates, overweight, and associated chronic non transmissible diseases that we have in our country, ” Paulina said.
This implies, for example, the development of foods incorporating natural ingredients from fruits, vegetables, and plants as coloring agents, flavoring and perfuming agents, which leads to a technological challenge for the food industry in order to maintain the characteristics of both sensory, quality and stability of their developments. “In Chile, although the development of clean label foods is still an emerging trend, it is possible to find some food companies that have made an effort to incorporate products on the supermarkets shelves, as are more natural fruit compotes and cereals, fruit juices, spreads, and rice crackers without preservatives, colors, flavors, or added sugar, and flavored and sweetened only with fruit juice concentrates,” she added.
“The challenge is great in Chile and a joint effort of both the food industry to seek more natural alternatives when programming their new developments, as well as the government to promote nutritional education campaigns complemented by a new labeling regulation is required. Soon a new labeling regulation will be enacted, to help consumers have more tools to make better decisions as to what to eat,“she pointed out.