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  • Writer's pictureHula Consulting


Consumers find value in #cleanlabel teas and other food and beverage products and are willing to pay more for clean label claims and recognizable ingredients. Both natural and organic products meet consumers’ expectations of clean label beverages and foods. The notion of #trustingbrands and companies to do what is right has increased over time and is ultimately a key factor in driving brand loyalty. We'll explore clean labels and give our predictions on #flavors for #2021teatrends to keep your tea line hot (or cool).

What does "clean label" mean?

The food and beverage industry, along with its consumers, interpret their idea of clean label products since there’s no legal definition available. Most consumers define a clean label as “natural“ or “organic“ and agree that a clean label refers to the reduction of ingredients, the authenticity of the product with simple ingredients that are easy to recognize, and trusting that it is safe to consume and free from artificial and synthetic chemicals. The clean label ingredients market size was valued at $38.8 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach $64.1 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 6.8% from 2019 to 2026. (2)

Consumers tend to define clean label as “natural” or “organic”.

Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of and author of "Read It Before You Eat It," urges consumers to be skeptical of the word "clean" when it comes to food: "The term 'clean label' has no approved definition, yet it means many things to many different people. It is presumed to mean that the food within the package contains ingredients you can recognize and pronounce. Still, just because you may not recognize an ingredient (like cyanocobalamin), it doesn’t mean that it’s harmful to you (that’s the scientific term for vitamin B12)." (1)

Who wouldn't love a natural?

Although a majority of the clean label ingredients are organic and natural, the food items which have very few ingredients are also included in clean label ingredients. All the products made by fully organic ingredients such as plant-based, natural, no synthetic mixing, and no chemical addition are also recognized as clean label products.

A whopping 30% of all consumers love seeing "All Natural" among all foods and flavors. (Datassential Flavor Tool). New product introductions with an #allnatural claim are on the rise with a 16% increase in global new products from 2016-2019, according to Mintel GNPD. Food products make up the majority of new products with 58%, and beverage products account for 15%.

As natural products have become "loved" and a mainstream product, sales are reflecting consumer purchases. Sales of natural food and beverage products were $47.2 billion in the past year. According to SPINS State of the Natural Industry Report, they accounted for 29% of all food and beverage industry sales growth.

What doesorganicmean?

The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. In the U.S., organic crops must be grown without synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, or bioengineered genes (

According to Nielsen, organic foods and beverages are now found in the kitchens of 82% of American households. The sales of #organic products are on the rise, with the Organic Trade Association (OTA) reporting organic food sales at $55.1 billion in 2019, with a growth of 5% from the previous year.

Organic foods and beverages are now found in the kitchens of 82% of American households.

Can I trust you?

According to a recent Mintel survey, 51% of consumers tend to stick to brands they trust. Consumers are beginning to seek out information beyond the traditional and look at the company as a whole and how well their values align overall with their own. Providing details around the supply chain and recognition from third-party groups for safety can gain/ maintain the trust of consumers and awareness of community engagement and charitable acts. This information is typically shared through social media and helps consumers build relationships with brands. Additionally, consumers are willing to try new products from a brand they trust, even when the premiums of clean label options warrant a higher consumer price point.

Is clean worth the price?

Consumers are aware that clean label items cost more, but research shows many shoppers are willing to pay a premium. With transparency in ingredients and the ability to show #natural and organic claims on the front display of products, consumers will pay a more premium price for a premium product, especially in a brand they trust.

FLAVOR TRENDS: What looks tasty in 2021?

We expect to see these four innovative flavors to make a splash in tea this year. Check out dandelion, chili pepper, huckleberry, and elderberry and taste how these tea companies are blending them in their teas.

Dandelion The leaves have a slightly bitter and tangy flavor that can be used similarly to spinach with pretty yellow, edible flowers. (4)

You can find a flavorful Dandelion Detox tea from Rishi Tea & Botanicals where this organic Pu'er tea blend's #dandelion is described as "an herb that is traditionally known to support detoxification."

Chili Pepper There are more than 200 different varieties of chiles, which vary in length and size. Their heat quotient can range from mildly warm to mouth-blistering hot— with the larger the chile the milder, as a general rule. (3)

You can find an innovative spicy-sweet organic dark tea at Tea Sip with their Chilly Pepper. This blend's cooling peppermint and sweet spearmint, contrasted with heating cinnamon and #chilipepper invite you to have your chili while you chill.

Huckleberry Ripe huckleberries should be sweet with a little tartness. Bitter or sour huckleberries are likely not yet ripe. Because they are similar to blueberries, many people expect huckleberries to taste like their close cousins. However, wild huckleberries are sweeter than blueberries. (6)

You can taste the flavorful #huckleberry in Lake Missoula Tea Company's blend with black tea. High Country Huckleberry Tea blend uses huckleberries picked from the mountains of Idaho and Montana.

Elderberry They're not overly sweet, but elderberries have a bright flavor and earthy-tart balance. This makes them an excellent blending berry with sweeter fruits (like apples or strawberries), but they also blend well with tart fruit like blackberries or mild-flavored grapes. (5) These little berries also blend nicely with fine black tea leaves and hibiscus.

Red Berries Herbal Tea from Tea Source is a beautiful herbal blend of #elderberry with hibiscus, rosehips, apple, blackberries, sour cherry, raspberry (and more!) and tastes truly amazing over ice.

Thirsty for more?

As you develop and extend your 2021 line of tea blends, consider a clean label. Either extend your current tea line or an upgrade from conventional to organic tea could have a significant ROI for your brand.

The #teaexperts at Hula Consulting can help with your blending and purchasing of tea, flavoring, and ingredients for your tea line, as well as tea education courses to give you and your team the tools for cupping, blending, and purchasing. Drop an email to or call 561.600.7025 to get started today.

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