The concept of healthy eating is nothing new for boomers, who turned organic eating into a market phenomenon in the ’60s and ’70s.

Now, a recent study of American food-buying preferences reveals that many of the boomer generation are joining the quest for “clean food” labeled as minimally processed.

For older Americans, clean labels help drive purchases, and are connected to a general desire to be healthier.

Charleston|Orwig is a strategic communications agency based in Hartland, Wisconsin. It worked with two research partners, Maeve Webster and Confidential Consumer, to poll 500 Americans about their perceptions and food-buying preferences related to clean food labels.

The results show a splintered consumer population. Nevertheless, for older Americans, clean labels help drive purchases, and are connected to a general desire to be healthier. 

What is “clean” food?

But first what exactly does “clean” food refer to, and what is a “clean food label”?  

While no single agreed-upon definition yet exists for “clean,” it’s a consumer-driven movement that seeks to improve issues of health, transparency, and sustainability across the food system and can be applied to meat, grains, produce, and more.

Clean food brings the organic movement’s focus on uncontaminated, natural ingredients to the supply chain and the table. Besides avoiding pesticides, artificial coloring and other manipulation of food, clean emphasizes minimal processing of those ingredients and delivering them as quickly as possible from farm to table.

When it comes to food, a “clean label” designation includes products that contain natural, familiar, simple ingredients that are easy to recognize, understand, and pronounce. Clean foods contain no artificial ingredients or synthetic chemicals.

Check out for more details about clean food, including stores that carry products with clean food labels.

According to the Charleston|Orwig survey, almost half the population has no affinity for clean label products, while 41% actively seek out products with a clean label designation. 

Thirty percent of the consumers who seek out clean labels are 55 and older.

This desire among baby boomers for clean labels is driven primarily by a focus on health. Meanwhile, younger consumers buy clean labels more often for moral and emotional reasons, according to the study.

The interest in clean labels among boomers confirms a strong interest in health-related topics among this demographic, including interest in functional foods, a category of food that claims to deliver specific benefits to sleep, recovery, and mental acuity.

A desire to maintain a healthy and long life coupled with increased spending power make boomers a serious player in the future of clean food products. It’s very likely that if you start noticing more clean labels in your neighborhood grocery store, it’s because of boomers.

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