To identify ‘the next ingredient to watch,’ it’s important to start with a look at broader trends, and how these trends will influence ‘what consumers’ want and why’.
Health has always been important to consumers, with functional food and drink, and food supplements available to support consumers’ different health needs. The pandemic has drawn new attention to health from consumers and health authorities alike, and is a defining point in time for health.
There are five areas of health—immune health, eye health, weight management, mental wellbeing, and healthy ageing—with unique ingredients fuelling product innovation.
Starting with immune health, it’s apparent that consumer concern about catching the virus may drive demand for solutions that support people’s immediate health, such as immune health solutions. Naturalness is a key priority for consumers, which can create opportunities for botanicals that are linked to immune health to expand into ‘new’ spaces.
Eye health solutions have long been available, but the increasingly screen-bound lifestyles of consumers and their children can open opportunities for ingredients that protect people’s eyes from screen pollutants such as ‘blue light.’ Age-related eye degeneration is no longer the only focus for eye health solutions—producers can target gamers and children who spend prolonged time at screens.
The pandemic has highlighted a need for consumers to proactively care for their health, taking steps to prevent conditions that are linked to diet and lifestyle such as weight conditions or diabetes. Solutions that support consumers’ health in the longer term should prove in demand, as ‘prevention, rather than cure,’ becomes a mantra for health. Interest in weight-management solutions can create opportunities for fibre to ‘become the next protein’ from a trend perspective. However, producers will need to work hard to shake off the association between fibre and ‘embarrassing’ gut-health problems.
Pandemic-shocked consumers may seek ways to reduce stress and anxiety, which can create opportunities for mood-altering ingredients that support with areas of mental wellbeing such as sleep, stress, and concentration. Food, drink, and food supplements with claims linked to sleep and stress are currently scarce in food and drink, but have potential to grow.
Lastly, there is an opportunity for ingredients that help consumers to age well, and producers can start to target younger age groups, such as millennials, with heathy ageing solutions, as well as senior consumers. Consumer interest in protecting their health for the later years can create opportunities for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which holds potential to become ‘the next collagen’.
Editor’s note: Looking for more on these trends and ingredients? Register now for Vitafoods Europe, and join Emma’s keynote presentation in person and live streaming online on Thursday 7 October.
Emma Schofield is a global food science analyst with Mintel. Mintel is the expert in what consumers want and why. As the world’s leading market intelligence agency, our analysis of consumers, markets, product innovation and competitive landscapes provides a unique perspective on global and local economies. Since 1972, our predictive analytics and expert recommendations have enabled our clients to make better business decisions faster.