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Vitafoods Europe 2023

Trends, innovations, and insights: Highlights from Vitafoods Europe, part 1

Article-Trends, innovations, and insights: Highlights from Vitafoods Europe, part 1

© Vitafoods Insights Vitafoods Europe 2023
Precision nutrition, healthy ageing, the skin microbiome, and more: we asked consumer analysts, market experts, and researchers at Vitafoods Europe about the trends and innovations that are changing the nutraceutical industry.

The skin microbiome and beauty from within

Magda Starula is a senior analyst at Euromonitor with a special focus on the health and beauty industries. She told Vitafoods Insights she had seen many companies at Vitafoods Europe specialising in beauty from within ingredients.

It is a big topic and when we think about the market prospects, we at Euromonitor believe the market is going to grow at a very healthy pace. We expect beauty from within to grow around 10% in the next four years.

The skin microbiome is also another area where we see a lot of innovation, like gut health. The skin microbiome is important because [...] there are about many brands specialising in that topic, and we are seeing more and more brands entering this space. An example can be Drunk Elephant or Dr Barbara Sturm.

Speaking more generally, Starula said the biggest trending ingredient is one that has been around for many years now: collagen. However, certain botanical extracts, such as rosemary extracts and even tomato extracts, are also growing in popularity and ceramides – fatty acids that occur naturally in the skin – are being increasingly used by brands, she added.

Asked about the most important geographical markets for growth in the nutricosmetic category, Starula said: “Asia-Pacific is the biggest [market] and that's going to grow, that's for sure. We see a huge potential in Western Europe - Belgium, France, and Italy – as well as Eastern Europe – Bulgaria, Poland. Latin America is also worth mentioning, mostly because of Brazil.

Precision nutrition and healthy ageing

Philipp Gut is head of data sciences and precision nutrition at Nestlé. As Nestlé’s resident expert in the biology of ageing, Gut explained why the Swiss food and drink multinational is developing products with a healthy ageing positioning.

There is a big demographic shift happening; today we have more people over the age of 65 living on this planet than children under the age of five. Of course, from a food perspective, it's a very important topic for us because it also comes with certain nutrition and health challenges.

We look at older adult populations from the point of view of 'how can food contribute to the prevention of age-related decline and diseases'. And from a consumer trend point of view, we see that when people talk about healthy ageing today, [they] are getting interested in it at younger ages.

Ten years ago, we were thinking a lot about protein shakes and products for frail people, but today that population is really starting at 30 or 40 and is getting interested in proactive health management, in particular through nutrition.

Nestlé is also investing in precision nutrition, Gut said. From its perspective, precision nutrition encompasses a broad spectrum of solutions, ranging from the right combinations of micronutrients that are matched to individual biology to apps that help consumers make informed and healthy food choices based on their lifestyle and taste preferences.

And while some personalised nutrition products involve unpleasant and invasive testing methods – for example, blood or stool samples – more user-friendly options can also be leveraged with success, he said.

I don't think necessarily that the entry point to personalised nutrition needs to be invasive. There is a huge development also in the tech world, and the leading solutions will be the ones that are low barrier for the consumer, for example, through wearables - whether these are watches, sleep rings, or just a cell phone with questionnaires, and so it also doesn't have to be very expensive.

I do think there will be much more advanced solutions in the future – look at continuous glucose monitoring – but that will depend on the health scores and the need states of the consumer,” he added.

Precision fermentation and vocal biomarker analysis for health diagnostics

Precision fermentation is promising to create scalable sources of ingredients that were not accessible before, such as glycoproteins from human breast milk. Rick Miller, director of specialised nutrition at Mintel, said that precision fermentation has “enormous potential” to create novel ingredients for infant formula.

© Vitafoods InsightsRick-Miller, Mintel - On-stage at Vitafoods Europe 2023

Let's think about it: breast milk is obviously the very best nutrition there is for infants, and I don't think there's any dispute around that at all, but obviously for women who choose not or can't for any reason, it's an amazing opportunity for children to get the very best nutrition they can possibly get.

Ingredients made via precision fermentation may also hold particular appeal with younger consumers, he said.

Obviously, younger consumers are worried about the impact of choosing specific types of infant formula [due to] the environment and climate change; they're worried about whether they should be choosing an animal-based infant formula or a plant-based one. And hence, I think the opportunity to use precision fermentation, which obviously takes both of those components out and has a very climate-positive outlook, could potentially be very appealing to future consumers.

Asked to name one genuinely disruptive innovation that might impact the health and wellness industry in the future, Miller cited Sonaphi, a US-based biotech company that tracks consumers’ vocal frequencies and, using machine learning-based, matches vocal biomarkers to different diseases.

Now, you are probably thinking, 'why is that important?'. Well, one thing we know about personalisation is that the less arduous effort you can place on the consumer, the more likely they are to engage with it,” he said. “So, imagine just talking into your mobile phone and it says, 'I think you might want to go to the doctor because you might have an infection.' That's very exciting for the future.