Where Next For The Clean Eating Trend?

The clean living trend is nothing new, it has been with us for many years under different guises tapping into the bigger eco / ethical macro trend. Being natural, organic, chemical and preservative free is the cornerstone of the trend: de-junking modern lifestyles for a better sense of overall wellbeing. The trend naturally spans across many categories such as food, beverages, beauty, household and even how we choose to spend our free time. We decided to take a closer look at the clean eating trend.

Where is the opportunity?

Target: A younger consumer has been introduced to the trend by a new wave of socially savvy and young online opinion formers, such as Deliciously Ella, and by celebrities such as Katy Perry and Sam Smith, who are following what has been described in the media as a “clean eating” diet.

Needs: These consumers are seeking to follow a nutrient dense, plant based, gluten free, sugar free and dairy free diet. (Pretty much vegan with some extra restrictions.)

The numbers: Vegan and wholefoods represent a great opportunity globally: vegan labels are set to grow by CAGR over 5% between 2015-2020 (Source: Euromonitor).

Problems to solve: The reality for many consumers is that being a true clean eating convert is a commitment, as well as an initial expense. Being organised, with a well-equipped kitchen is a starting point, but you then need to create the headspace to think more carefully about what you are eating.

Considerations: As this is a current movement with the Instagram generation, design plays an integral role: your brand needs to look good on camera.

What has been done so far?

Veggie Pret

In June 2016 Pret A Manger opened their first Veggie Pret in London which proved to be so popular that they have since opened up two additional shops. While not strictly clean eating (there is gluten, sugar and dairy available) the menu offers a wide range of options for food on the go for those following a clean eating diet including coconut lattes, wraps, breakfast bowls and chia pots. This was simply not available from a big brand before.

Royal Nut Butters

Nut butters are a fundamental of clean eating and used in cooking as well as spreading. Royal Nut Butters is a full range of 100% nut butters, some common in the marketplace such as almond butter, and some with additional nutrient dense chia seeds for added health benefits. The design is minimalist and premium.

eight jars of different nut spreads, named almond, royal, hazlenut, ABC chia, almond chia, ABC, cashew and pistachio

Ancient Harvest Microwavable Organic Quinoa

This microwavable solution provides a quick way of bolstering your meals with protein. It contains completely natural ingredients and is made with coconut oil, one of the key staples for this trend (along with nut butters).

Mindful Chef

Mindful Chef is a food box company that delivers food boxes directly to your door. While not strictly “clean eating”, the founders believe in reducing intake of sugar and refined carbs, and consumers can pick their dietary preferences. Vegan boxes are available.


Where next for the clean eating trend?

Calcium = Power

As clean eating is grounded first and foremost in health benefits, there are some areas to consider. Recently there have been health warnings in the news about how the lack of dairy in these diets could contribute to conditions such as osteoporosis in under 25s. Plant based calcium supplements are available, such as Aduna Moringa Powder which can be added to smoothies and meals.

For increased consumer convenience, nutrient dense and calcium rich ingredients like this could be added to innovations to boost a calcium story. These include wholefood cereals, natural energy snacks, hot drinks and even non-dairy indulgences, like dark chocolate and coconut yogurts.

While not citing calcium specifically, Moon Juice Raw & Activated Overnight Oats are able to make additional nutrition claims vs standard oats due to the inclusion of added ingredients.

over night oats being poured into glass ramekinsSimilarly, AlphaMind Vitamin Coffee combines vitamins and coffee. The brand sets itself apart to appeal specifically to those interested in health and fitness. Adding non-dairy calcium to drinks such as hot chocolates and teas could also attract a health conscious consumer.

Alkalising up

The seeming success of some of these diets is an increased consumption of plants, and decreased consumption of sugary, processed foods which is making the body’s alkaline levels better balanced and therefore consumers feel healthier.

There are powder supplements designed to balance the body’s PH. Live Ultimate, for example, includes antioxidant rich berries, immune boosting mushrooms, herbs and alkalising greens like kelp, spirulina and blue-green algae.

There is a bubbling trend of alkaline waters, with niche innovations in the US from Soupure: clean, alkalised fresh waters infused with known-alkalising ingredients. Zoe Water is another alkaline water which is more technical. As an ionised water it has a PH balance greater than 7, making it healthier and creating an antioxidant environment in the body.

In the UK, introducing waters with health benefits has been particularly successful and could be a win for retailers as well as consumers. The introduction of Coconut Water by Innocent Drinks grew the total category, with 60% of sales being incremental.

In the refreshment category, Tisane Teas have launched a range of ready to drink alkaline teas to give an alternative, healthier option to ice teas in the US. It contains alkaline water, naturally alkaline flavourings and stevia as a sweetener. This principle could be applied to many soft drinks for consumers seeking a healthy refreshment option.

cartons of organic tisane alkaline tea, vanilla chai flavour and hibiscus berryAlkalising could also move into other categories. Moon Juice have recently launched chia seed puddings which they claim are “plant protein, energy food, digestive aid, brain activator and alkaliser.” They have been made with alkaline water and alkaline ingredients. A similar principle could be applied to non-dairy yogurts, desserts and probiotic drinks.

Sexy souping

Soups are easy to make and easy to eat. They form the cornerstone of any clean eating, alkalising diet. Again, consumers are often reluctant to create these themselves, and while there are some great examples of soups moving towards the clean eating trend, there is scope for more innovation within this category.

Glorious Foods offer a “super soup” range, with nutritious ingredients and two of your five-a-day. Although the ingredients are (literally) there, Glorious don’t push these healthy credentials and could take some inspiration from some of the modern soups in the US.

In the US, souping is seen as more of a cleansing programme and as part of a daily routine in much the same way that smoothies are. Soups can be packaged in a similar way to smoothies. Soupure offer sleek packaging (good for Instagram) and talk up health benefits.

soupure bottles of juice

It is possible for the soup category to take note of what Innocent did when they launched a range of Super Smoothies. They emphasised the nutritional credentials for those who want more health benefits other than “your daily portion of fruit.” This has been the cornerstone of their standard range. The packaging clearly leads with the benefit and states the ingredients deliver this.

innocent brand smoothie bottles, called invigorate, energise, and recharge sitting on a bed of fresh fruit with a blue sky and white cloud back dropThere is also scope for summer soups. For example, gazpachos are an easy and healthy way to eat on the go. Tio have a range of vegetable and fruit gazpachos, beautifully packaged and offering a balance of health, taste and convenience.



When ideating around the clean eating trend, there are so many possibilities for long term gain. Especially given the consumer momentum which is fuelling demand for healthy, cleaner options. The journey of discovery is exciting for both consumers and brands alike. The innovation potential is endless, considering the number of ingredients available and colour spectrum that the plant world allows.

There are three key rules we recommend for success:

  • Be convenient. A brand that is able to make it easy for the consumer to incorporate clean eating into their daily life will be onto a winner. It is an investment for the consumer to switch to this lifestyle so any help you can give them will be beneficial to you as a brand.
  • Be balanced. A brand that can offer taste as well as health is onto a winner, as demonstrated by Veggie Pret and Innocent alike. There is a core to this trend which is also about a balance in the body – taking it back to a neutral state for optimal health. It is worth investigating how your brand can help the consumer to do this. 
  • Be authentic. All brands featured in the examples above have an authentic voice about how they have discovered new ways to be and how to innovate. Tell the consumers your story on how you innovate in this space to build an emotional connection with them.


Fastest growing vegan markets are China (17.2%), UAE (10.6%) and Australia (9.6%)

The global market for ethically labelled packaged foods, soft drinks and hot drinks (excluding private label) accounted for US$ 793.8 billion in 2015 and is set to reach US$ 872.7 billion by 2020. 


Further reading







Follow up articles

Clean Beauty & Clean Sleeping, Clean Household (these follow on from Clean Eating)