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Vitafoods Europe 2023

Trends, innovations, and insights: Highlights from Vitafoods Europe, part 2

Article-Trends, innovations, and insights: Highlights from Vitafoods Europe, part 2

© Vitafoods Insights Trends, innovations, and insights: Highlights from Vitafoods Europe, part 2
From sports nutrition’s “shining star” status in the US to the EU’s sustainable ambitions, we asked industry experts at Vitafoods Europe about the trends, innovations, and regulations that are shaping the nutraceutical industry.

Performance nutrition is the ‘bright, shining star’ in the US

The US supplement market is the biggest in the world. But which categories are most promising in terms of growth?

At SPINS, we track sales from hundreds of thousands of brick-and-mortar grocery stores all over of all different retail types and what we’re seeing is sales are just a little bit up – maybe one to three percent – across brick-and-mortar stores and some e-commerce markets as well,” said Brandon Casteel, vice president of channel and retail partnerships at market research company SPINS. “Units are down four to seven percent, but the average retail price is up four to nine percent.

So, we are seeing a macrotrend of sales being flattish, units being down but the price being up. But if you were to look into the data a little bit deeper, performance nutrition is by far the bright, shining star within the vitamins, minerals and supplement (VMS) space in the US. It’s up 36% year over year in sales.

Casteel also noted that the probiotic space was also up by 4.3% - “pretty good” compared to the index of the overall category.

There is growing research connecting the microbiome to numerous health focuses and that is going to lead to new products and new innovations in this space,” he added.

Exporting the EU’s ‘ambitious’ sustainable principles

Nicolas Carbonnelle, partner at legal firm Bird & Bird, gave a presentation on the EU Corporate Sustainability and Due Diligence Directive, which will oblige companies to identify, end, prevent, and mitigate negative human rights and environmental impacts within their own operations, those of their subsidiaries, and in their value chains.

This directive has not appeared out of the blue; there is definitely something about sustainability going on, as we all know,” he said.

Carbonnelle added that many other EU regulations – such as the taxonomy classification and sustainability reporting directive – were “quite intertwined” with the Due Diligence Directive and some EU member states such as France and Germany were also introducing national rules that had overlapping aims.

Carbonnelle described the Directive’s objectives as “very ambitious”, particularly because they will also apply to non-EU companies that do business in the EU.

Here we can see the ambitions of the European Union to expand and have its principles applied at a global basis,” he told attendees at the Sustainability Resource Centre.

Vitafoods Insights asked Simon Pettman, executive director of the International Alliance of Dietary Supplement Associations (IADSA) to comment on the potential impact of the Directive on the global nutraceutical industry.

Pettman said that while it was “very important” that companies “move towards sustainability” in general, the trade body did not have an official position on this regulation.

However, he added that it was important the burden of implementation was not too great, especially for smaller businesses.

I have to say that companies are also facing so many different challenges of a regulatory nature at the moment, it's important that the EU doesn't put a target that is then not achievable for companies simply because it's all too much at the same time.

So, in principle we always support moves in that direction, but I think it's important to take industry with government here and make sure particularly that small and medium-sized companies that don't necessarily have the capacity are able to re-equip themselves to meet the requirements that are coming down the line.

From psychobiotics to nootropics: Do these buzzwords really resonate?

Some of the nutraceutical industry’s latest ingredient innovations are centred around nootropics, adaptogens, and the entire family of biotics, which has expanded beyond probiotics and prebiotics to include postbiotics and even psychobiotics.

But do these terms resonate with the average consumer?

© Steve Burden PhotographyMike Hughes On stage at Vitafoods 2023

"In a nutshell – no,” said Mike Hughes, head of research and insights at FMCG Gurus. “When we mention certain ingredients, consumers can be aware of ones that are very well-known such as probiotics and that's true even in Europe where legislation prevents products from being labelled as probiotics. But when you mention postbiotics, fewer than one in 10 know that phrase and with many of these phrases, they just won't understand them.

He added: “... consumers won't know what they are and they may even be seen as some kind of buzzword for no other reason than just trying to command a premium price.

This doesn’t mean that brands should avoid using these ingredients. However, they must clearly communicate the health benefits and use scientifically substantiated claims to provide evidence, Hughes said.

It's not enough just citing ingredients and hoping consumers are aware of the benefits and related dosages etc. Instead, you need to make the clear correlation between the benefits of the ingredient. When consumers pick a product up, very rarely are they looking for a specific ingredient, instead they are looking for the benefit.

Sports nutrition trends: Muscle-building is out, post-workout recovery is in

Innova Market Insights has identified the European sports nutrition as one of the functional food categories that is seeing the most innovation.

We asked Nicole Jansen, manager for insights and innovation at Innova Market Insights, which claims are resonating in this category.

"When it comes to sports nutrition, I do see a lot of products that don't necessarily focus much on muscle build-up anymore, there is a lot more to it now: making sure you can really recover from a workout or a run and making sure your joints are healthy. I see a lot of innovation on that end,” she said.

The infant formula and infant nutrition market is also innovative in terms of product development, Jansen said, with a growing number of manufacturers seeking to create 100% organic products.