Healthy Shopping Baskets
A new study by IRI found more than two thirds of shoppers across Europe are buying healthy food with less salt, sugar, fat or calories, with a large proportion of shoppers also buying organic, vegetarian and ‘free-from’ food—suggesting people are paying more attention to their health. IRI surveyed 2,600 consumers across Europe about their attitudes and purchasing behaviours towards wellness foods, finding organic purchases increased by 35 percent over the last three years, and 26 percent more consumers purchased vegetarian options over the same period. Consumers in Germany were most likely to consume organic products (67 percent of consumers), while those in Spain were most likely to buy vegetarian foods (44 percent). The free-from market is experiencing a boom, evidenced by the 33 percent increase in purchases of lactose-, yeast- and gluten-free products across Europe, with Spanish consumers leading the way as 48 percent reported they buy free-from food products. The shoppers surveyed reported ‘general wellness’ was their main reason for purchasing such items, with a third citing the ingredients list and nutritional fact labels as factors in their decisions. The report explains consumers are more concerned with the ‘quality, safety and healthiness of the food they buy’, with reasons ranging from wanting products that are additive free (34 percent of consumers), good for the environment (22 percent) to targeting specific health products (15 percent). Interestingly, for most Europeans, healthiness is down to the basics as the report found 60 percent said eating fruit and vegetables was the most important aspect of a healthy diet. As consumers become more knowledgeable about health and wellness, and more invested in purchasing healthier food options, there is great opportunity for functional food manufacturers.
Being ‘Vegetarian’ in Europe
As vegetarianism becomes more mainstream, pressure is mounting on the European Commission to develop a legal definition for ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian’ food. Demand is growing for such products yet there is no concrete definition for either term, legally defined by EU food law. The European Vegetarian Union asked the Commission to consider the definitions and pursuant to the EU Labelling Regulation 1169/2011, the EC is obliged to ‘adopt an implementing act on voluntary labelling information pertaining to the suitability of a food’ for vegetarians or vegans. However, there is no deadline for this obligation, and the EC has responded that it cannot ‘commit to a specific date or content of the implementing act’, as the ‘drafting [of such an act] is not a priority’.
While the EU ponders ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’, millennials are forcing the industry to rethink ‘supplement’. To the largest consumer age group with the ‘strongest buying power’—according to CBD Marketing—nutritional and dietary supplements no longer mean pills, capsules or tablets, but powders and beverages. CBD analysed ‘1.6 million supplement conversations’, 800,000 of which references powders, while only 10 percent of that referenced pills. This is likely due to the changing mindsets, as millennials reject the traditional pharma-associated pill-popping regimes, opting for health-focused, whole-food alternatives. Superfood, green, whole-food powders they can incorporate in smoothies, protein powders with added probiotics and on-the-go, better-for-you, ready-to-drink beverages lead the way for the millennial cohort. This naturally opens up potential for functional food manufacturers, but also offers innovation opportunities for capsule and pill manufacturers: time-release capsules and personalised pills could provide the differentiation and innovation the segment needs to appeal to millennials.