Economic Brief No. (EB-35) 14 pp

May 2023

The Prevalence of the “Natural” Claim on Food Product Packaging

U.S. food suppliers make claims about their production processes on food packaging that highlight attributes some consumers want while charging a higher price than for unlabeled products. Some labels use such claims as “USDA Organic" and “raised without antibiotics,” which require different and more expensive production techniques than conventional agriculture. However, food suppliers can make the “natural” claim at relatively low cost because regulatory agencies treat the claim as meaning nothing artificial was added and the product was minimally processed. Numerous consumer food choice studies have concluded that the “natural” label on food is often equated with healthier food choices and more costly production practices that signify environmental stewardship. Based on scanner data and comprehensive label data, this report estimates the frequency with which food suppliers make the “natural” claim on label food packaging.

How to Cite:

Kuchler, F., Sweitzer, M., & Chelius, C. (2023). The prevalence of the "natural" claim on food product packaging (Report No. EB-35). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

Keywords: natural food, label claims, market shares, scanner data, comprehensive label data, U.S. food consumers

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