With an increased focus on health over the past year, consumers are reassessing their decisions surrounding eating and exercise. A recent report by Smartbrief found that almost a third of people (29%) are consuming more functional foods and beverages in 2020 than in previous years.
Amid the global coronavirus crisis, ReportLinker estimated the global market for health and wellness foods at $764 billion, with a projected growth to $1 trillion by 2027 and a CAGR of 4.8% between 2020-2027.
This increased demand is likely in response to heightened fears around health and wellness due to the current climate. Here, FoodBev explores five themes impacting the functional food and beverage sector.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers are increasingly reaching for products that offer immunity boosting benefits as a preventative measure. The functional foods industry is seeing a rise in products that contain immune-boosting natural ingredients, such as turmeric, ginger and apple cider vinegar, as well as vitamins, minerals, prebiotics and probiotics.
The Functional Food & Beverage Report 2020 from the Hartman Group found immunity and general prevention were among the top reasons for consumer use of functional foods, including supplements and functional beverages.
In a webinar summarising the report findings, Laurie Demeritt, Hartman CEO, said: “We’ve seen a long-term trajectory in terms of the rise of immunity as an area of interest for consumers, but certainly what’s happening in the current environment has really pushed that up to the top”.
With the UK government acknowledging the broad range of health benefits of vitamin D, health secretary, Matt Hancock, is encouraging the nation to increase their intake. Moreover, a recent Google Trends analysis report by Chang et al revealed how the pandemic is affecting dietary behaviours across the world. The researchers found a strong link between Covid-19 cases and immune-related nutrient and herb search terms. Specifically, active ingredients such as vitamins, turmeric, zinc and ginger showed a particularly strong correlation with a marked increase in searches of the term ‘immunity’.
It can be recognised that the current Covid-19 crisis is a key driver for immunity-enhancing products in the functional foods market, with FoodBev observing numerous food brands tapping into this trend over the course of the pandemic. Tea India, for example, launched its Tumeric Chai variation into the UK in June, while August saw the release of four functional wellness shots by Dose. These include an immunity variant which, according to the brand, contains ingredients that work together to support the body’s natural defences.
In direct response to increased demand for immunity boosting products, Weller launched a Sparkling Immunity canned water range in September. Notably, all three variants in the line combine elderberry juice, vitamin C, vitamin D3, zinc and magnesium to provide an array of nutrients.
Shifting the ‘quarantine kilos’
With heavily publicised evidence of higher Covid-19 morbidity rates in those deemed obese, more people are exercising in order to promote better physical and mental wellbeing. Based on data from a Google Trends report, there is a clear link between coronavirus cases and web searches for the terms ‘exercise,’ ‘weight-loss’ and ‘cycling’.
The onset of another lockdown, and the accompanying fear of what has been termed ‘quarantine kilos’ is also fuelling this changing lifestyle. As a result, we are seeing an increase in sports nutrition products such as protein drinks, electrolyte replenishers, energy boosters and performance enhancers being released.
According to Healthfocus, 50% of those who exercise at least once a week are more likely to choose specific foods after exercise, with hydration, protein and electrolytes the most important attributes that consumers look for in functional sport products. In order to stand out from the crowd, brands can differentiate these products through clean-label and novelty ingredients, while demonstrating varied functionalities to increase appeal.
August saw the release of Applied Nutrition’s new range of energy and performance beverages under it’s ABE brand. With 200mg of caffeine, B vitamins, taurine, electrolytes and added citrulline for improved blood flow, the new range offers multiple benefits such as increased hydration and boosted energy.
While it is highly unlikely that a person will contract the virus through food, there has been some anxiety around the possibility of contamination in a time of elevated uncertainty. Consumers have become more scrutinous of product packaging, and are more likely to accept single-use (throw-away) packaging and cutlery to avoid unnecessary contact. With the aim of differentiating themselves, suppliers and manufacturers must show how they have gone beyond typical quality measures, demonstrating transparency in their entire supply chains.
Greater transparency within the functional sector is a growing market trend, with rising demand for organic, eco-friendly and clean-labelled health and wellness products allowing consumers to feel greater control over their wellbeing. We can expect to see this theme continue into 2021, with safety practices, sanitation and ingredient traceability remaining crucial.
The pandemic has caused anxiety, disruption and uncertainty for many. It has also been reported that spending more time at home can lead to sleeping pattern complications. Social distancing and quarantining can, unsurprisingly, lead to isolation and depression. With higher stress levels, consumers are looking for products that promote relaxation, improved sleep and mental wellbeing.
According to Packaged Facts, a staggering 82% of adults have trouble sleeping at least one night a week, with 39% reporting sleep issues at least five nights a week. Even prior to Covid-19, brain and mental health ranked highly among the benefits consumers would most like to get from foods, according to IFIC in a recent food and health survey.
Many companies are utilising CBD to tap into the demand for stress relieving products. For example, Calm Drinks debuted a sparkling drink earlier this year that is designed to promote relaxation and offer immune support. 2020 saw the expansion of Trip’s range of CBD beverages, with its online sales increasing sixfold during the lockdown. The company claims that this is part of a wider pattern of growing demand for CBD, fuelled by rising anxiety amid stay-at-home restrictions.
Total wellbeing is a consumer trend that combines many sub-trends in the wake of Covid-19. As a result, opportunities for innovations are emerging and we are seeing an increase in healthy snacks with added functionalities and all-rounder supplements.
Larger corporations are also tapping into the market for holistic wellness, as Nestlé saw an increase in demand for its Pure Encapsulations range; particularly for those that offered support for overall health.
Nestlé is joined by other leaders in the food industry (such as Danone), advocating for Nutri-Score to become the mandatory nutrition labelling system across the EU. According to The European Consumer Organisation, nutritional labelling has been recognised by both national governments and international health experts as one of the key policy tools, which can be used to assist consumers in making more informed, healthier food choices at a glance.
“Nutri-Score helps people make good food choices and motivates food and drink companies to accelerate the development of healthier products,” said Marco Settembri, Nestlé CEO for EMENA.
Evidently, companies are innovating to provide consumers with products that offer tangible benefits, while the wider industry strives to achieve greater nutritional awareness and healthier eating. This has arguably been accelerated as a result of the pandemic.
Have you got a health or wellness product that is award-worthy? The World Food Innovation Awards 2021 has two designated health or wellness categories. Check them out now!
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2023