Today’s consumers are more health conscious than ever before, with a growing number of people choosing to take proactive steps to safeguard their health. In addition to increased exercise levels, good nutrition plays a key role in the shift towards a more health-focused lifestyle.
Whether it is protecting heart health, improving digestion or helping to manage weight, there is rising demand for customised food and beverage products that deliver relevant health and wellness benefits.
Experts have long identified health as an overarching trend in the food and beverage industry. In an increasingly competitive market, the choice of ingredients is an important consideration and can play a pivotal role in differentiating products on shelf.
The industry continues to innovate and there are some strong nutritional solutions emerging, which either bring new value to the marketplace or offer benefits over existing products.
At the same, consumers around the world are increasingly seeking a clean label. By using natural ingredients which also deliver scientifically proven health benefits, food and beverage manufacturers can marry the two ‘mega trends’ as they become rooted in shoppers’ minds.
Which nutritional ingredients are the most likely to appeal to consumers? The possibilities are endless and it is important to identify the consumer health concerns and groups with the most potential growth.
Currently, consumers are responding particularly well to products that enhance immunity, give an energy boost and improve digestive health. For example, according to consumer research group Health Focus International, ‘energy’ is consistently among consumers’ top five needs.
The category has strong innovation opportunities; new developments to look out for include slow release energy and energy drinks targeted at older consumers.
It is, however, important not to oversimplify the positioning of a product. The industry’s understanding of consumer health concerns is now at a point where it is unlikely that new demands will be ‘discovered’.
Instead, food and beverage manufacturers must deliver tailored health and wellness benefits to achieve market success. For example, as the population ages, the senior market will continue to grab the attention of product innovators.
Ingredients such as omega-3 fatty acids resonate with elderly consumers and DHA has approved health claims in several parts of the world for the maintenance of heart, brain and eye health. However, positioning must be carefully considered if a brand owner is to appeal to the senior market. For example, older consumers do not necessarily identify as ‘elderly’ people and it can be more effective to market products as ‘live longer’ and ‘for healthy ageing’.
Of course, there are some health concerns that will always resonate with consumers of all ages. This is especially the case as people take a more holistic and health-focused approach to lifestyle and diet, and look for preventative measures that can offer benefits throughout life.
For example, with cardiovascular disease named as the cause of more than 23 percent of deaths worldwide, the global heart health market is expanding. Sales are forecast to reach US$15.2 billion worldwide by 2018 and Asia Pacific is a promising market, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 15 percent through to 2018 expected.
Functional foods and dietary supplements are constantly being developed and launched to meet rising consumer demand for heart health benefit solutions, and nutritional ingredient suppliers are continuing to invest in ingredient innovation to help their customers to differentiate their offering.
Despite recent advances, there is an ongoing need for consumer education on the role that dietary supplementation can play in supporting health and wellbeing.
It is widely accepted that the simplest way of receiving essential nutrition is through a healthy and varied diet but, due to changes in modern eating habits, a large proportion of the population is not adequately nourished.
For example, it is estimated that more than 90 percent of the US population does not currently meet the daily dietary recommendations for vitamin E. The impact of low micronutrient intake is a major public health concern on a global scale, as it means that individuals are more vulnerable to infection, disease and early death.
Mode Shift Move Together, Detroit, US
According to the National Institute of Health, more than one third of Americans now complement their diet by taking a multivitamin mineral supplement in order to boost their intake. However, the debate over the requirement for, and efficacy of multivitamin supplementation is ongoing.
These conflicting messages can only confuse consumers and it is important that scientists, healthcare professionals and governments respond collectively to consistently reinforce the wealth of existing safe science.
For example, numerous studies demonstrate that the majority of adults in the US do not get the Estimated Average Requirement of essential micronutrients, including vitamins A, D, E and K, magnesium, calcium and potassium from their diet.
Within Asia Pacific, almost half of preschool children in Southeast Asia are affected by severe vitamin A deficiency and a 2012 study found that a large part of the population in Vietnam is still at risk of deficiencies such as zinc, vitamin A, folate and vitamin B12.
The consumption of fortified foods and beverages, or taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement, is an effective and low cost way to fill nutritional gaps in individuals.
Aside from health and wellbeing, brand owners should also consider wider platforms on which fortified food and beverage products can be actively marketed. To give an example, with sales of natural foods and drinks predicted to reach US$39.1 billion by 2015, the clean label trend continues to influence consumers and ‘natural’ terminology remains powerful—even in regions where regulatory hurdles have made it difficult to communicate the positioning on pack.
It is also important to note that ‘natural’ is closely linked to ‘healthy’ in the minds of consumers, with more than three quarters of European consumers seeing natural as meaning healthy.
There are a number of emerging ingredients, which can help manufacturers to meet consumer demand for natural functional foods and beverages. For example, olive polyphenols contain the powerful antioxidant hydroxytyrosol, which supports heart health through the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress.
Literature also indicates that olive polyphenols may have a beneficial effect on joint health, cellular energy metabolism, and in helping to boost the body’s own antioxidant system.
Proven Health Benefits
In addition, oats are typically well-regarded by consumers and enjoy a ‘healthy halo’, with numerous advantages for health and wellbeing. The health benefits of oat beta-glucan—a natural component derived from oats—have been widely recognised around the world, including the Food & Drug Association (FDA) in the US and the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ).
For example, oat beta-glucan was awarded positive opinions from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Commission has authorised Article 14 health claims for cholesterol reduction and the associated reduced risk of developing heart disease, as well as for digestive health and blood glucose control.
Often, products that contain oat beta-glucan are marketed on a heart health positioning claim. This means that manufacturers can offer consumers around the world an effective nutritional approach to cardiovascular health, at a point when heart health awareness is at an all-time high.
The market for functional foods and beverages is an exciting and expanding area for the food, beverage and dietary supplement market as a whole. Ingredient suppliers can help manufacturers to meet consumer needs and get their products to market easily and efficiently.
This is achieved by creating ingredients that will differentiate products and stand out to consumers as an effective way to increase their daily consumption of the right nutrients.
Under The Spotlight
James Bauly was recently appointed by DSM Nutritional Products as the marketing director for the Asia Pacific region. Holder of a BSc in Zoology and a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Bristol, he joined the company in 2001 and most recently held the position of marketing director for EMEA. In his new appointment, he will be responsible for driving the overall market development strategy for all segments across Asia Pacific. He shared with us his vision for the region and the company’s plan at the upcoming Fi Asia.
The Asia Pacific is a key region for the company, with its distinctive mix of emerging markets such as Myanmar and Bangladesh, through to developed markets such as Japan and South Korea.
We are continuing to expand our broad portfolio of nutritional solutions and help manufacturers across Asia Pacific in the development of high quality products. In particular, we are focusing increasingly on co-creation of retail-ready concepts where we can combine our knowledge of new science and technology with our customer’s brands and consumer expertise.
More than ever before, our marketing approach has become ‘customer brand-centric’ and this is reflected in the rising number of well positioned consumer product launches containing our functional ingredients.
We work in partnership with customers on all aspects of new product development, including initial scoping of market segments, consumer trends, new science, brand analysis, application technology, claims and communication, thereby covering the whole value chain from inception to launch.
With our strengthened portfolio and capabilities, not least through integration of recent acquisitions, we are positioned to capture the tremendous opportunities within this dynamic region.
At this year’s Fi Asia, we will highlight our portfolio of products and innovations. For the first time, Fortitech Premixes will be presented by us, highlighting a range of market ready food and beverages that offer ultra-convenient ways to deliver nutrients and flavours.
In addition, our scope of strategic nutrition through unique dairy and non-dairy protein formulation and blending capabilities will be highlighted.
Our newest innovations include an antioxidant that is naturally found in olive fruits and a high potency DHA/EPA oil. The new launches offer benefits to heart, joint, brain and eye health, among others.
For example, life’sOMEGA 60 is a new and even higher potency form of the original product, which will be marketed as a 60 percent total omega-3 product for dietary supplements. This new form is a high concentrate DHA/EPA vegetarian omega-3 that is allergen and GMO free.
Sourced from algae, its purity profile provides considerable sensory advantages with as much as twice the potency of other sources, such as krill oil, making it a cost-effective choice.