As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to influence consumers' behaviours, wants, and needs to maintain well-balanced health, older consumers are now embracing the concept of prevention over cure. Thus, companies are prone to offer them more holistic approaches that could become easily implemented daily. The Vitafoods Insights July industry report focuses on ‘Healthy ageing: The era of preventive care’ and discusses the pandemic's impact on the healthy ageing market, addressing market growth, nutrition awareness, and commercialisation opportunities for healthy ageing.
Aligned with healthy ageing, Vitafoods Insights spoke with Géraldine Blanc and Marcia da Silva Pinto from Evolva about the importance of the healthy ageing market and resveratrol.
How did you see the healthy ageing market impacted by COVID-19 regarding consumer priorities and new research?
The necessity to pay greater attention to your physical health to prevent health problems and other age-related concerns, especially through nutrition, was already present before COVID-19. In many ways, it seems that the pandemic has been more an accelerator of already emerging trends than a generator. By allowing all of us to reconnect with our bodies, the pandemic made us all realise at the same time our vulnerability but also our physical and psychological resilience capabilities. And these learnings applied to all ages. Healthy ageing is not only a concern of the elderly but an "all-age" concern.
Considering that the concept of healthy ageing is not only about living longer but also healthier and happier, the pandemic has highlighted the need for consumers to realise immunity's role in this process. Looking at resveratrol, which is by nature an ingredient well known for its healthy ageing benefits, we observed during the last 15 months a lot of NPD in the fields of immune, mental and digestive health. This dynamic in the NPD area also shows the growing consumer awareness about the role of the gut microbiota in the overall health status, particularly linked to concepts such as the gut-brain-immune axis.
With immune health being such a high area of interest in 2020, how are experts looking to developing the next generation of healthy ageing products that support the overall immunity of older consumers?
The perception of health has evolved and become more holistic. Consumers are, of course, extremely attentive to their physical health, but they are also attentive to their mental and emotional well-being. Consumers now consider that all aspects of their health are strongly connected and interdependent.
Looking at the resveratrol market, historic applications on heart health, blood glucose control, as well as joint and bone health remain blockbusters. But we also clearly saw a huge increase of NPD focusing on brain function, mental performance while boosting memory and enhancing stress tolerance and mood.
As consumers are broadening their perception of their health, they are also now looking for functional ingredients that allow them to address various health concerns quickly and simultaneously. Functional ingredients with a broad spectrum of benefits, such as resveratrol, a holistic active component by nature, have seen a huge increase in demand over the last 15 months.
How are brands repositioning established healthy ageing products in the consumer market?
Established healthy ageing brands must take seriously the current consumer expectations for science-backed ingredients to keep their space in the market. Being present in the healthy ageing market and benefiting from solid scientific literature should not prevent established brands from investing in science.
Talking about extensively investigated ingredients, recent results from the RESHAW study (DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001643).
have indicated significant health benefits for post-menopausal women when supplemented with resveratrol. As the longest and largest clinical study with resveratrol, the results have attracted the attention of new categories of consumers and opened new commercial applications.
What is the opportunity for supply chain stakeholders and brand owners to collaborate closely with other health professionals to improve consumers' understanding and awareness about nutrient requirements and key benefits?
Consumers’ requirements for transparency and traceability are forcing collaboration across the value chain. It is important that all stakeholders work hand in hand to answer the growing needs for documented information about the ingredients, their origin, and their health benefits.
Collaboration is also key for innovation, capturing evolving needs, understanding the emerging trends, and bridging these trends with fast-evolving technologies. The equation is too complex to be solved by a single player, and we can anticipate that successful initiatives will in the future be launched by alliances and consortiums of different stakeholders, relying on the complementarity of their expertise, profile, size, and business models. We already see more and more biotech companies partnering with big companies—the first ones bringing innovation capabilities, their agility, and their entrepreneurial mindset, the second ones bringing the robustness of their structure, their market presence, and their high level of expertise to develop an innovative faster route to market. These reinforced interactions also involve stronger connections between academics, authorities, and industries—not always obvious. It requires open-mindedness and the resilience capability to evolve in a matrix, continuously changing ecosystem, learning, unlearn, and relearning.
What are key ingredients trending in the healthy ageing market category, and what benefits do they deliver?
As consumers are broadening their perception of their health, they are also now looking for functional ingredients that allow them to address various health concerns quickly and simultaneously. Resveratrol has seen a huge increase in demand over the last 15 months. And the broad spectrum is certainly not the only strength of resveratrol which has been on the market for several years, which has now gained trust both with end consumers and ingredient manufacturers. Strongly science-backed, resveratrol is still investigated by researchers across the globe and with many interesting discoveries still to come.
So, it seems that in this fast-evolving nutrition space, where a new trendy ingredient is sometimes replacing another before consumers even have time to get familiar with it, the established ingredients play the game of science, technological innovation, and sustainable approach could be the new trend. With science evolving rapidly, consumers are becoming more aware that gut microbiota composition plays a key role in maintaining a healthy status. From the gut-brain axis model to the immune-skin-gut-brain axis, the complexity of the axes highlights the need for ingredients that can holistically support health. Resveratrol is reportedly metabolised by the microbiota and therefore can play a key role in supporting overall health.
What is the current whitespace in the healthy ageing market, and where should ingredient and product developers focus on their innovation and research efforts?
Healthy ageing is no longer a concern of the elderly, but younger generations are more conscious of the need to take good care of their health. In this broader concept of healthy ageing, personalised care with the understanding of the individual needs in each phase of life will represent the biggest opportunity for ingredients that can bring the needed science. Another key area that will develop further is gut microbiota and how its composition affects overall health. The gut microbiota composition and its metabolites have been linked to beneficial effects from brain health to immune response and skin appearance.
As an extensively investigated ingredient for healthy ageing and living, resveratrol can be considered a key ingredient for supporting consumer's holistic needs. Also, during the pandemic, there was an increase in consumers' willingness to keep the sweet taste while remaining healthy. Low-intensity sugars such as L-Arabinose could represent a healthy alternative.
Is there any research that has interested you relating to healthy ageing? Are there particular regions that have attracted more interest in these products?
With increasing life expectancy, it is estimated that the menopause period will occupy one-third of a woman's life. It is well described that ageing brings challenges to one's health, but menopause usually adds a burden to women's lives as they experience not only a new biological state but also a psychosocial change. Hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, weight gain, and increased pain sensitivity are just a few common complaints among women during menopause. Although symptoms vary among women, one thing is certain: these symptoms affect women's quality of life.
The latest publication of the RESHAW study (DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001643) assessing the effects of resveratrol supplementation on the quality of life of 120 women has been published end of 2020 and shed light on the possibility for post-menopausal women to improve their life quality.
Are you noting any innovative delivery formats that appeal to older consumers? And who should be companies target for their healthy ageing products?
All formats that are bringing ease of use are particularly appreciated. We observe "pills fatigue" and much interest in alternative, usable forms like liquid shots, capsules, and even gummies that are more and more appreciated by all ages. For example, we saw in previous months product launches in the menopause market, which included gummies.
Healthy ageing is not only a concern for elderlies. It is now of interest for younger age groups as well. Companies must adapt their strategies accordingly and rejuvenate their offer and their way of communicating, considering that healthy ageing is now a topic that concerns everyone at home, including pets who are now key members of the family.
Géraldine Blanc joined Evolva in 2020 and is responsible for developing and executing the marketing strategy and activities across three commercial businesses: Health Ingredients, Health Protection, Flavours and Fragrances. She has two master's degrees and an MBA. She has more than 15 years of experience in marketing and communications in both global and regional roles at companies including DSM and Merial, mainly in the healthcare, pharma, health protection, human and animal nutrition market sectors.
Marcia da Silva Pinto, PharmD, PhD
Marcia de Silva Pinto has a degree in pharmacy & biochemistry and doctorate in Food Chemistry. In nutrition & health, she has 20 years of experience working in the area of polyphenols, bioavailability, and health benefits with more than 20 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals and three granted patents.
After more than 10 years working in academia in Brazil and broad experience as a post doc in the United States, she moved to Switzerland to pursue a career in one of the largest global food companies. This experience has given her the chance to understand how important it is to "translate" scientific research over to a business scenario.