What will be big in 2019? NutraIngredients predicts top industry drivers

By Nathan Gray, Nikki Cutler & Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images
Getty Images
As we boldly begin our march into 2019, it’s time for the NutraIngredients editors to get out our crystal balls and predict the hottest trends in the European health and wellness space for the year ahead. What’s in store for 2019?

With the festive season upon us, many within the industry are firmly focused on future challenges and opportunities – and in particular what the next 12 months for the nutritional supplements, functional foods, and wellness space.

Here’s a few ideas that our team of editor’s think could be big in 2019…

fibre sources

The year for fibre?

With widely publicised and growing consumer interest in gut health and the microbiome, there is potential for popularity of fibre to surge next year – alongside probiotics and prebiotics.

It seems that nearly every consumer has some sort of complaint about gut health, whether it be as simple as bloating or as severe as IBS, and people are self-educating as to the best diet choices to control these symptoms.

There’s been a wealth of new research showing the health benefits associated with high fibre diets, from weight management​, gut health and even mental health​ – all of which are of strong interest to consumers.

Innova Market Insights recently revealed that 33% of UK consumers have increased their fibre consumption, with the majority doing so because they want to improve their digestive health. As such, the market research firm reported a 55% increase in fibre being added to sport nutrition products in the last five years.

Manufacturers are well-aware of this trend.

Dr Ieva Laurie, principle scientist EMEA at Tate & Lyle, recently told NutraIngredients that ‘the future for fibre is bright’​ thanks to the expanding science behind fibre and its influence on the microbiome, and new ‘exciting benefits’ such as bone health, potential benefits related to immunity, and even a possible correlation between gut health and the brain.

Several new food and drink start-ups are already tapping into the trend for increasing fibre intake. Polish entrepreneur Robert Sak​ has created the brand called ‘The Heart of Nature’ with a range of Pure Grain Bread, while Swedish start-up Carbiotix says its focus on personalised feedback and dosing at a competitive price point will help consumers to fill the 'fibre gap' in a meaningful and easy way​. Early indications have been good for Carbiotix, initially spun-out from the department of biotechnology at Lund University, the firm said aggregated results from the first six months of its personalised prebiotic subscription service show it achieved almost 100% effectiveness in improving gut health​.

i-Nutrition: This time it’s personal

The rise of technology and innovation in nutrition is set to continue unabated, with an emphasis on data to tailor the products to individual preferences and responses to certain ingredients.


With technology such as FitBit, Apple Watch, and Samsung Galaxy Gear to inform consumers on sleep quality, steps taken, calories burned, mindful moments, and heart rate companies are gradually tying in nutrition to technology.

While mainstream adoption may take some time, the category is already has early successes and disruptors creating a huge buzz – not to mention a massive focus for research and development.

With a huge number of start-ups, tech incubators and investment activity from major industry players, the personalised nutrition sector is prime to explode in the next few years.

BASF recently revealed details of PeptAIde​, its bioactive ingredient discovered and delivered through artificial intelligence (AI). The ingredient is the culmination of a partnership between BASF and Nuritas formed back in January 2017, and hints at the depth of impact AI technology could have on the sports nutrition industry.

Coupled with the capabilities of machine learning, these innovations point towards a more data-driven approach in order to accelerate product development cycles.


Meanwhile, big firms such as Nestle Wellness and Genesis Healthcare Technology are using social media to provide targeted DNA testing services to create a custom-tailored daily beverage supplement pack. The program is said to cost around €528 ($600) annually for specially formulated supplements, smoothies and other products such as vitamin-fortified snacks.

Meanwhile, companies like DSM-backed Mixfit​ have been making waves with their innovative approaches to the personalised nutrition market.

However, progress is not one-directional. Consumers are taking control​ of their diet and health with the advent of wearable technology that is driving interest in health and nutrition as ‘lifestyle’ disorders take their toll.

Microbiome 2.0

As if the versatility of probiotics wasn’t impressive enough, 2019 is set to unleash an assortment of functionality as research continues to reveal deeper insights into the power of the gut microbiome on health – with prebiotics, postbiotics, microbiome therapies and next-gen probiotics set to sizzle.

In particular postbiotics—the metabolites and/or cell-wall components released by probiotics—have been touted to play a more active, upgraded role​, potentially surpassing probiotics as a way to enhance functional food.


Researchers think these components affect a wider range of physiological processes, setting up a starting point for possible moves into the commercial neutraceutical sector.

One company operating in this space already is German pharma company Laves-Arzneimittel, which produces Colibiogen, a protein-free filtrate made from cultures of Escherichia coli​ (strain Laves 1931) that contains amino acids, peptides, polysaccharides and fatty acids.

The product has been shown to be effective in inhibiting sensitive Salmonella isolates and to reduce skin lesions in patients with polymorphous light eruptions.

It is clear that the red-hot interest and seemingly boundless opportunities of the microbiome has given rise to intense focus from researchers, investors, and companies working in both the nutraceuitcal and pharmaceutical space.

As start-ups and global healthcare companies alike, look to build innovative pipelines based on microbiome science there are huge opportunities to for those developing clinical solutions to target ill health via the microbiome – driving a rapid shift towards microbiome therapeutics.

vegan meat free from vegetables iStock NataliaBulatova

Plant-based nutrition: Vegan innovation

Eating more plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts have long been the hardest part of dietary recommendations for many of us to adhere to. The presence of this trend on the list signifies that food technology innovations have found ways to help plants make it into our diet in tasty, convenient ways. Products with plant protein and vegetable-based pasta are just a couple of examples of this trend’s power for stealth health.

So called ‘alternative proteins’ have long been ‘on trend’ – but we think 2019 may be the year where we see true widespread innovation and new offerings to meet the growing number of vegetarian and vegan consumers in the market.

The number of consumers interested in a vegan lifestyle has risen sharply in recent years. While restaurants and cafés are starting to make the most of this opportunity, the healthy food and nutrition industry seem several steps off the pace.

But with major companies rolling out vegan friendly ingredient lines, and health retailers like Holland & Barrett reputedly looking to open new ‘vegan only’ store formats, there is plenty of scope for further product development and innovation in the space.

Keto convenience

The ketogenic diet is a strict regimen of low-carb, high-fat foods that forces the body into a state of ketosis — when you burn fat, instead of carbohydrates, for energy.

With the help of social media and word of mouth, the number of people following a ketogenic diet and looking for keto-friendly products have gone through the roof this year.

Google trends show that searches for the term ‘keto’ have spiked in the last 12 months, while searches for other diets that previously spiked industry NPD, like paleo, have not.

In search of keto

There are already a plethora of start-ups and disruptors operating in the space, (including recently covered Perfect Keto​, The Good Fat Co​, Nui Cookies​ and Phytochem’s encapsulated MCT powder​) however the market has remained fairly niche until recently. But, given its rising cult status, and the growing number of innovative companies tapping into the trend, 2019 could be the year that keto firmly hits the mainstream.


With wider adoption of the diet we will definitely see more shelf space dedicated to keto nutrition – as major manufacturers look to provide new products that meet growing demand.

Supplements still make up the majority of keto product launches, with US-based retailer The Vitamin Shoppe highlighting the trend by creating a shop-within-a-shop in all its locations nationwide called Keto HQ​, a dedicated space for keto products.

However, one area that will be sure to provide ripe grounds for innovation is the demand for snacking and convenience – as innovators look to deliver tasty, on the go foods and drinks to the keto consumer.

Making sports nutrition appeal to senior consumers

The over-60s market is growing and, so too, are opportunities to market supplements and sports nutrition products to this audience.

ageing age senior health muscle strength protein iStock.com triocean

By 2020, a quarter of Europeans will be over 60, according to the European Commission. And people growing into their senior years are more digitally savvy than ever, and reading online about the best ways to stay fit and healthy.

No doubt this audience is going to want to stave off the effects of sarcopenia and, as such, retired health researcher Dr Max Gowland has created the brand Prime Fifty​, which sells supplements and protein shakes targeting the over-50’s market.

This is likely to be just one of a barrage of products aimed at senior shoppers. Ingredients supplier Carbery recently told NutraIngredients​ that sports nutrition brands should start looking into what flavours are likely to appeal to this market.

Sarah O’Neill, Carbery’s marketing manager, said: “As the new generation of older shoppers are more aware of their health it’s important to have flavours that appeal to the older generation.

“Nostalgic flavours are likely to be popular but exactly what those are will change by country - things such as biscuits and nostalgic desserts are likely to be popular.”

What’s more, several exhibitors at the Health Ingredients show at Frankfurt were adamant that healthy ageing ingredients are going to be important in coming years​. This opinion is strongly backed by Leatherhead Food Research which shows that interest and activity in anti-ageing food and drink is rising​.

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