NutraIngredients’ trends for 2019 review: Editors’ predictions versus reality – Part 1

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images/Metamorworks
©Getty Images/Metamorworks

Related tags: Trends, predictions, reality

As 2019 draws to a close, NutraIngredients looks back at its editors’ predictions made at the start of the year and ask how accurate were they?

Was 2019 the breakout year for fibre and did technology and innovation play a starring role in tailoring products to individuals and responses to certain ingredients?

Here’s how the editors fared…..

The year for fibre?

Fibre pic
©iStock

What the editors said:​  “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.”

What happened in 2019?

At the start of the year, the World Health Organization (WHO) commissioned a landmark review that said eating more fibre, would cut people’s chances of heart disease and early death.

The Lancet medical journal then published a study​ in February that said an increase in whole grains showed reductions in body weight and cholesterol.

The number of fibre-enriched products was on the rise as market research firm Innova showed a 23% increase in European product launches with fibre claims.

Large food firms such as Cargill decided to invest €32m in Europe adding soluble fibres to its existing portfolio of starches, sweeteners and texturizers.

Meanwhile Taiyo launched​ a 'functional cola' beverage that offered a popular everyday flavour with added dietary fibre scientifically shown to help weight loss.

The firm’s Sunfiber Cola is the first FODMAP friendly sugar-free cola to combine the flavour of cola with the satiating effect of fibre.

Prediction accuracy rating: ​ 3.5 out of 5. Fibre continues to gain in popularity, fuelled by the interest in prebiotics and gut health.

The rise of wearable tech

Mobile phone pic
©iStock

What the editors said:  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.”

“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.”

What happened in 2019?

The year kicked off with the UK’s Chief Medical Officer saying​ that technologies combining nutritional guidelines, genetic information and behavioural science could ‘nudge’ individuals to achieve personal behaviour changes.

“With the availability of more diverse data, such as the data that is now becoming available from wearables, social media and a plethora of apps that track exercise, nutrition and vital signs, machine leaning can unravel a variety of determinants of health; not only clinical factors but also social, environmental, nutritional and behavioural factors,”​ said professor Dame Sally Davies.

Fast forward to the start of last month and Google reportedly paid €1.9m to gain control of wearables firm Fitbit, in a move that allows the search engine giants to develop the market for fitness trackers and smart watches.

NutraIngredients also reported that Verily, a health-focused subsidiary of Google‘s parent company, Alphabet was developing a shoe that can detect weight and movement.

2019 also saw Apple striking a deal with Aetna health insurance that uses a new mobile app that leverages data from its Apple Watch.

IDC Research​ believes the wearables category will reach 189 million units by 2022, up from 125 million units in 2018, with growth is driven by smartwatches, and trackers, which are expected to remain an important part of the category overall.

Prediction accuracy rating: ​4 out of 5. With Google and Apple behind innovative wearables, its popularity is set to continue into 2020 and beyond.

Microbiome upgrade

Microbiome pic
©iStock

What the editors said: “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.”

What happened in 2019?

Much microbiome-related activity occurred in 2019 with big firms looking to capitalise on increasing interest in gut health and the products that promote it.

In July​ AB-Biotics was the subject of a €38m takeover bid by its largest shareholder Kaneka Europe, who looked to acquire the remaining 60% of the Spanish probiotic specialists, valuing the firm at €63m.

Meanwhile, Chr. Hansen made available a new three-strain probiotic blend that the Danish bioscience company says can help halve the risk of Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC) in premature babies.

Consisting of the probiotic strains BB-12, Bifidobacterium animalis ​subsp. lactis​, TH-4 Streptococcus thermophilus​​ and Bifidobacterium longum​ subsp. Infantis​​, the product is now available in Europe and the US through customer partnerships.

Last month, Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes announced its acquisition​ of Denmark-based Bifodan in a deal that offered “significant growth potential, with the product portfolios of both companies set to be rolled out at a larger scale.”

Prediction accuracy rating: ​5 out of 5. As knowledge into the microbiome grows, firms are targeting the gut as a gateway to overall health. Expect more M&A activity and product launches in 2020.

Tomorrow​: Part 2 features plant-based nutrition, vegan innovation, the Keto diet and making sports nutrition appeal to senior consumers.

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