An editorial in the European Journal of Nutrition sees a Dutch group of scientists concerned about a public reluctance to trust nutritional insights. They voice concern over the information available to consumers, as the public eye is grasped by oversimplified statements about food being healthy or unhealthy and more ‘nuanced’ information from nutrition scientists is ‘often not well perceived’. They point out diets and cookbooks from ‘self-appointed experts’, so prevalent on social media, take precedence. The onus is on manufacturers and retailers to market and educate carefully and appropriately.
Research from Mintel shows while usage remains strong for sports nutrition products, almost two-thirds of consumers wonder whether that product benefits them. This evidences the pervasiveness and success the sports nutrition category enjoys, but highlights the need for transparency: more than 70 percent of UK-based consumers want an industry-wide certification to ensure the quality of ingredients. ‘Mainstream protein’ also looms over the sports nutrition industry —29 percent of UK consumers no longer rely solely on sports nutrition products for high-protein products. As high-protein becomes a dominant trend across the food and beverage industry, sports nutrition manufacturers need to embrace the way the categories are blurring. This was a trend noted at Vitafoods Europe 2017, and discussed in the What Was Hot podcast.
46 percent of consumers avoid sports nutrition products that contain sugar and demand is high for reduced or sugar-free products. Sugar reduction was a key trend at IFT 2017 in Las Vegas, and is swiftly becoming a market norm. Results from a human taste study at the University of Reading found some naturally sweet prebiotic fibres could replace sugar in food and drink.
When reducing sugar in products, manufacturers should be aware consumers are demanding better flavour and texture for sports nutrition products. When the category catered solely to bodybuilders and elite athletes, products weren’t required to be full of flavour—it was a niche segment with too few consumers to complain. As sports nutrition is now mainstream, flavour and texture need to deliver as consumers repeatedly identify flavour and texture as the main concerns in purchasing decisions, according to Mintel data.
When looking at weight management products, it seems there are two choices: low-carb or low-fat. It turns out that both strategies work but not for everyone. Researchers found successfully losing weight is more about who a person is than what they eat, presenting opportunities for personalised nutrition to enter the fray. The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows weight loss and gain is significantly depending on fasting plasma glucose and fasting insulin levels. Specifically, prediabetic participants were very susceptible to weight gain when on the high-carb diet, but saw substantial weight loss when on a low-carb diet, even when calories weren’t restricted. Those with normal glycaemic levels lost more on a high-carb and low-fat diet. This opens the weight management category to an influx of personalised nutrition solutions—services that test blood glucose levels before prescribing a diet or weight loss products could be the next big thing for successful weight management.
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