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The Major Difference Between Labeling Natural and Organic Foods

September 20, 2016

Many of today’s consumers are very well-versed in understanding where their food comes from. They follow new information about food labeling laws, they read FDA labels, they avoid harmful chemicals in their food and personal care products, and they try to buy locally grown whenever possible. However, one major misconception that still manages to confuse customers is the labeling of natural and organic foods.

Natural and Organic Are Not One in the Same

Studies show that consumers believe natural products are often the less expensive organic option, which isn’t the case. When shoppers see the word “natural” on product labels, they expect the product to be completely natural and free of chemicals, dyes, antibiotics, pesticides, and so on. They expect these products to be as healthy as organic products, but without the “organic” label.

Unfortunately, customers are often misled to believe that natural and organic are the same thing, when really, there are no real rules or regulations as to what qualifies as a “natural” product. Because of this, today’s shoppers are more wary than ever when it comes to trusting the food industry and the words they see on FDA labels.

Organic Labels

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) defines organic foods as foods that are grown and processed using organic farming methods. Not only does organic refer to the food items themselves, but more specifically to how the food was produced.

To qualify as organic, foods cannot be grown with synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, bioengineered genes, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Organic livestock must not receive any antibiotics or growth hormones, and must be given access to the outdoors.

Natural Foods

According to a study conducted by Consumer Reports, 73 percent of shoppers are more likely to purchase natural foods instead of organic foods because organic foods are more expensive. Shoppers believe that they are getting the same benefit as purchasing organic foods, but for less money.

Unfortunately, there is no real definition of “natural” foods, but companies are encouraged to label foods as natural in accordance with their own judgement. According to the FDA, organic foods are “natural by definition”, but foods labeled as natural should be minimally processed and free of synthetic preservatives, artificial sweeteners or colors, antibiotics, growth hormones, and hydrogenated oils. Natural livestock must be minimally processed.

Is Your Product Natural or Organic?

Since there are no set regulations for labeling natural foods, manufacturers need to use their own judgement. If you believe that your product should be marketed as organic, there are rules and regulations that need to be followed, depending on how organic your product actually is.

For example, if your food product is to be marketed as “100 percent organic”, it must actually be 100 percent organic and cannot contain any non-organic products whatsoever. Products labeled “organic” should contain 95 percent organic ingredients, and products containing between 70-95 percent organic ingredients may be labeled as “made with organic ingredients”. Products made with less than 70 percent organic materials may not be labeled as organic, other than to identify any organic ingredients used.

To encourage your customers to keep coming back for more of your products, transparency is important on FDA labels. When you order your nutrition labels from Sheet-Labels.com, we can help your brand to create the perfect labels that are trustworthy, eye-catching, and durable. Contact us today!

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