Study reveals importance of naturalness to food and beverage consumers in Latin America

The consumer wish for more naturalness links to all regions with many local facets demanding tailored natural product solutions from the food and beverage industry. Over the past 3 years,
Symrise has collected global insights on the perception of naturalness covering more than 15,000 consumers across Asia Pacific, North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin
America. The studies have revealed consumer attitudes towards naturalness in order to provide valuable insights that enable Symrise to support food and beverage companies in the creation of signature taste solutions that consumers love. Now, Symrise is presenting its naturalness study for the LATAM markets.
The latest study is covering more than 1,500 consumers in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia showed that high proportions of consumers across all categories and countries are willing to pay more for products that embrace true naturalness. They are looking for great taste experiences, and their perception can positively influence the acceptance of a product by the explicit use of words such as “natural”, “organic” and “fresh”. Consumers respond rejecting to ingredients with scientific or artificialsounding names, and prefer common and familiar preparation methods.
“Our research has shown the importance of naturalness as a driver for consumer choice throughout Latin America,” said Renata Kasahara, Marketing, Sensory and Consumer Insights Director LATAM Flavor Symrise. “While variations across the region are inevitable, the data shows that there are commonalities in attitudes that call for dynamic and authentic taste and product solutions that enhance consumer satisfaction as well as the relevance and success of our customers in these markets and across the world.”
Category results reveal interesting variations but also strong commonalities
The broad survey categories included Sweet Goods and Dairy, Savoury and Snacks and Beverages. While the relative appeals of ingredients varied – for example consumers in Colombia,
and Mexico attribute more health benefits to aloe in sodas, while local flavors, like açaí find more favor in Brazil – fruit flavors, especially from the citrus family, deliver key purchasing factors across the region, with lime, citrus mix, lime blossom, grapefruit and orange most common. Consumers also share views on ice cream and sherbets, for which 100% natural ingredients are considered to be healthy as well as a reward.
The study found that between 43-49% of consumers act health conscious, look for organic and natural food, follow a special diet like vegan, vegetarian or paleo, avoid meat and consuming more dairy. So, many people are looking for organic and natural food that suits their specialist diets, and a high demand exists across the region for products that are less processed with more natural and fresh ingredients.
While price remains an important consideration, consumers are increasingly prepared to pay a premium for what they perceive as naturalness. Across Latin America the concept is associated with a combination of factors based on health benefits, less or no processing, low salt and sodium, no additives or artificial flavorings, as well as sustainability, transparency and authenticity of sources.
Clarity and simplicity of ingredients are also important, with consumers responding favorably to products with familiar, easy to understand labeling and preparation methods.
“Our naturalness study indicates that consumers are paying closer attention to the provenance of the products they choose and bringing greater knowledge and higher expectations to their decision making. They are looking for great tastes as much as ever, and they base their choices increasingly on simplicity and transparency, health benefits and the authenticity and sustainability of ingredients that are based firmly in nature. They are willing to pay more for products that conform to these complex requirements”, said Kasahara.
A clear confirmation that naturalness matters, whatever the local interpretation
These variations in definition are fascinating. For example, in the Savory and Snacks category, consumers look for quality brands and pay particular attention to labels and ingredients. In Brazil, they perceive soups as a healthy snack and useful as an option for weight loss. For sauces and dressings in Latin America, an emotional factor can be correlated, as the study shows that one of the main reasons for buying 100% natural ingredients products rather than regular ones is taking care of their families and themselves. However, some local differences can be described as purchase drivers in this culinary segment: in Brazil, having low salt levels; in Argentina, having a simple list of ingredients; in Colombia, made with local ingredients; in Mexico, made from real fruit or vegetables. Sustainability and ethical sourcing are important, and again, most consumers (77% in Mexico) are willing to pay more for all-natural products.
This is the emerging pattern across the study, with local variations in the definition and drivers of naturalness, and a high overall demand for its fundamental essence, along with a willingness to search out and pay for products that deliver the naturalness consumers seek. From cookies to carbonated drinks, this research helps Symrise and its customers to decipher consumer attitudes, translate their relative importance across borders and create the right products.
“Food and beverage manufacturers consider it important to deliver against market and consumer needs. When innovating together, Symrise decodes these trends and translates them into natural taste solutions. As key enabler in this context serves our unique code of nature® platform which that delivers the authentic taste of nature.”, says Regine Lueghausen, Global Marketing VP Flavor at Symrise.
Symrise code of nature® – decoding consumer trends and creating natural taste experiences
Further information on the Symrise naturalness studies is available at www.codeofnature.symrise.com (code of nature landing page eng)
About code of nature® code of nature® goes beyond a mere portfolio of natural products. It enables a unique code of nature® for customers and solutions. It connects Symrise’s long scientific heritage with deep consumer understanding, sustainable backward integration and regulatory consultancy capability. This dedicated approach combines the  work of Symrise experts with long-standing certified partners, respecting nature, and using gentle technology and processes to amplify nature.