As more people become informed that natural doesn’t mean organic when it comes to food, and that the term is very loosely regulated by the USDA so it doesn’t mean much, companies that use “natural” as a marketing claim are finding themselves in trouble.

Three years after processed food makers jumped all over the term when they realized people were spending more money on healthy foods, “natural” started to disappear from packages. Over 100 lawsuits were brought against companies using the claim, mostly over products that contain genetically modified ingredients.

But, people are still continuing to spend more of their grocery dollars on healthy foods, so marketers have found a new buzzword they hope will grab the attention of consumers. “Simply” is showing up on labels where “natural” used to be.

Frito-Lay chips that were called “Simply Natural” (after being called “All Natural”) will now just use the term “simply.” Quaker granola is also switching out the terms. Pepsi will be doing the same.

The word “simply” to me doesn’t have the same connotation as “natural.” I’m not sure what the word means when it comes to food. I know what natural means, even if the USDA doesn’t regulate it and marketers tried to make it mean just about anything they wanted. Simply? To me it means without fuss. But, that doesn’t mean anything to me when it comes to ingredients in food. It’s ambiguous. If it fools some people into believing the product is somehow more natural or healthier, I’ll be surprised.

What would you expect from a food product that used the marketing term “simply” on its packaging?

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

'Simply' is the new 'Natural'
As more consumers become aware and often litigious about the word “natural” on food packaging, marketers are replacing it with the more ambiguous “simply.”