Health and wellness trends continue to drive growth in the functional food and beverage industry, consumers are increasingly choosing foods with added nutritional value for them to meet their health goals. Delve into this blog to understand the shift in consumer trends and the importance of scientifically validating your health product to ensure its entry to market is successful.
Cardiovascular Health Trends
Life expectancy across the globe is increasing at an accelerated rate, and an ageing population is becoming more apparent, creating a significant business opportunity. There is a growing need to supply more preventative methods, hence the growth of the ‘healthy ageing’ idea, driving health prevention over treatment. Therefore, functional foods and supplements play a more significant role, with major scope for reform in terms of cardiovascular health.
Cardiovascular health was valued at USD 8.2 billion in 2016 at a global level. It is one of the largest segments of the market, however it has shown sharp decline in recent times. An IFIC report shows that in 2019, heart health fell from first to fourth place among the health benefits consumers would most like to get from foods; weight management, followed by energy and digestive benefits now tops the list. However, heart health still tops the list of benefits sought after by the 50 and older age category. Cardiovascular Disease is a factor in 17.5 million people die each year from, highlights the WHO, accounting for 31% of total deaths worldwide (Euromonitor, 2017). Despite the decline in CVD products, an opportunity still exists to offer health promoting products that will cater for high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, as well as obesity and overweight.
Reviving the Cardiovascular Industry
A lack of innovation can be highlighted as a key factor here, similarly, the emergence of strict health claims regulation has attributed to the decline. Education is key to the revival, it is vital that consumers' knowledge of functional ingredients increases as they are better able to distinguish between proven and misleading claims.
Companies should take on two core approaches: innovate with products that are naturally rich in ingredients with approved health claims or “explore newer superfoods such as moringa or curcumin and invest in strong science for future health claim approvals”. An important focus could be placed on using functional ingredients with a heart health benefit to fortify food and beverages, such as omega fatty acids, plant sterols, flavanols and tocopherols. See below:
- Plant sterols are also linked to the natural perception. It works simultaneously with beta glucan to remove cholesterol from the body.
- Oats naturally contain beta glucan has been a significant trend that has been exploited well over the past years. It goes against the general trend, based on cutting out carbohydrates behind weight management perceptions.
- Omega 3 fatty acid is naturally sourced.
Weight Management Health Trends
Similar to cardiovascular health, weight management is seen to be another significant trend. Weight management was worth 128.5 billion USD in 2016 and it was ranked the second biggest trend. Four in 10 consumers closely monitor what they eat; 43% try to eat healthy but don’t pay close attention; and 9% claim to be on a strict diet (Dataessential, 2019). These findings highlight the trend towards ‘weight management and nutrition’.
However, in recent years the weight management sector has evolved and has taken a broader focus. Consumers globally are taking a more ‘holistic and long term’ approach to weight management and wellbeing. Weight management and wellbeing is seen to be less prioritised than the broader healthy living and wellness considerations. Modern consumers are adopting lifestyles where “weight management is de-emphasised”. A new focus is on purchasing products that are natural, trustworthy and have functional ingredients that help them meet their health and lifestyle goals. These products need to be easy to understand and use (Euromonitor, 2018).
Sports nutrition and health & wellness foods have been historically adjacent categories to weight management. Now, these categories have become closer and the lines between them seem blurred in many instances. However, new upstart brands and large companies utilizing acquisitions are creating a space for healthier growth as they define an area in the larger competitive market by appealing to newer consumers with different demands. A significant change in how products succeed in this market is apparent, this area is steering away from identifying specific health needs and is becoming more focused on offering a product that fits easily into consumer lifestyles. For example, we see a significant growth in Vegan/Vegetarian supplements.
Due to the decline and shift away from the traditional means of weight loss, we can see the different trajectories over time. Meal replacement showed slowed-down growth due to the improvement of adjacent categories such as 'better for you' and functional/fortified foods. See below an analysis of principal products within the category:
- Supplement nutrition drinks: This area consistently shows higher growth compared to the other categories. Weight management – 19% of households use weight control beverages (Mintel, 2020).
- Meal replacement and weight loss supplements have shown similar changes throughout. This is due to consumer interest being correlative for these two categories.
Datassential. 2019. The New Healthy Keynote Report.
Euromonitor. 2020. Health & Wellness 2020. Euromonitor Intl., London. euromonitor.com.
IFIC. 2019. IFIC Food & Health Survey.
Mintel. 2020. Nutrition Drinks—U.S.