Healthy drinks dominate dairy sector

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cent Nutrition Van der schraelen

Dairy drinks promoted with a health benefit in tow now account for more than 70 per cent of global launches, according to food market analyst, Innova Food.

Most of the innovation iss occurring in Western Europe (28 per cent) and Asia (24 per cent), followed by Latin America (18 per cent).

Inneov divided health claims into either active or passive – active claims comprising calcium, fibre, iron and gut health claims; passive claims included reduced fat/sugar and organic categories.

Dairy fibre

Referencing the research, the world’s leading inulin and oligofructose supplier, Beneo-Orafti, noted that North America lead the world in developing inulin and oligofructose-fortified dairy drinks. Eleven per cent of US dairy drinks contained inulin or oligofructose, compared with nine per cent in Asia and seven per cent in Western Europe.

“We have seen a growing emphasis on health in society as obesity becomes a global problem and although ‘convenience’ is still a major driver in the promotion of dairy drinks (17 per cent of new products use it to sell the product),”​ said Beneo-Orafti marketing and communication manager, Tim Van der Schraelen.

“This has been overtaken in popularity by ‘health’ (both active and passive) as the primary claim used to encourage sales, with 53 per cent of the new products launched. With this in mind, we have seen over a 90 per cent increase in the number of dairy drink products brought to market that contain inulin and oligofructose over the last seven years. From small beginnings back in 2002 when only 15 dairy drinks contained this active food ingredient, 2008 saw 181 products brought to market globally that contained inulin and oligofructose.”

Beneo-Orafti said out of those 181 dairy drinks, 17 per cent made gut health claims, compared to only three per cent five years ago, revealing a “considerable increase in understanding by consumers of the benefits of digestive health”.

Increased understanding

Beneo-Orafti noted low-fat and low-sugar were growing more slowly with 10 per cent and two per cent of products carrying such claims, compared to 12 and two per cent five years ago.

Increased consumer understanding of specific claims and what they can do for the promotion of health, combined with the tightening of EU legislation on health claim labelling, will continue to prove a challenge for food producers in 2009 and beyond,”​ Van der Schraelen added.

Beneo-Orafti research conducted in December revealed health promtoting ingredients increased “the appeal of established brands and generates added value.”

Despite this, the Beneo-Orafti research revealed there was often a gap between ingredient and health benefit knowledge, but if communication was effective, “manufacturers can add significant value to already premium brands.”

“Healthy dairy drinks make up the majority of new product development launches over recent years. Therefore it stands to reason that manufacturers who can tap into this sector with tailored health benefit messages that can be substantiated with scientific proof, will continue to see increased market development and penetration this year and beyond,”​ Tim Van der Schraelen said.

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