Dr Dominique Baum, Managing Director at SIRIO Europe, says there's no doubt that a substantial proportion of consumers will have used this period of lockdown to educate themselves on how they can use vitamins and minerals to support their immunity and this is newly educated customer base will provide long-term opportunities to the sector.
"Consumers were generally becoming a lot more health conscious in the past few years anyway," she explains, "but the pandemic has really stimulated consumers’ awareness of the importance of a healthy immune system, and how nutraceuticals can boost immunity."
Dr Baum outlines some of the key winners of this heightened immunity awareness will be vitamin D and omega-3
Her predictions are in line with global data shared by Lumina Intelligence, revealing that the number of Google searches for 'immunity and probiotic' in the 11 months pre-coronavirus was 3,940 on average, compared to a massive 21,370 in March 2020.
Meanwhile, average monthly searches for vitamin D and Immunity, pre-COVID was just 320, compared to 4,400 during March 2020 and April 2020. Likewise, monthly searches for omega-3 and immunity soared from an average of 50 to an average of 480 (Google Keywords Planner).
But Dr Baum suggests that one even more important trend could be the preference for holistic health solutions. Consumers have long been drawn to multivitamins offering a range of health benefits and the nutraceuticals expert suggests innovations merging these two preferences will likely hit the spot.
"Consumers will be looking for new ways to potentially boost health and immunity with combination products, and we anticipate those products with multiple actives are likely to be increasingly popular.
"A wider range of vitamins are now in demand, usually in the form of multivitamin tablets, which is evidenced by the numbers of recent multivitamin stockouts through Europe [according to Euromonitor]. More specifically vitamin D has grown in demand, most likely due to consumers receiving less sunlight.
"This particularly held true in late March/early April, when the lockdown restrictions across Europe were most extreme. But beyond vitamins we saw a surge in demand for omega-3 fatty acids and natural antioxidants, as consumers are looking to boost their cardiovascular and respiratory health – two systems that are weakened by COVID-19.
"Another type of immunity formulation we’ve seen a big growth in is probiotics, as more and more publications describe the advantages of probiotics in immunity. It’s one of our specialisms and in the last year, we created a probiotic gummies and a softgel containing Omega 3 and high counts of viable bacteria; so we we expect to see good growth for these products as well."
Speaking about how SIRIO has worked to maintain this momentum post-pandemic, Dr Baum says the company has developed new 'holistic' solutions.
"There is a clearly a good consumer demand so more unique formulations will emerge, and we expect to be working with partners to develop really novel formulations. For example, multivitamin gummies, which have a great taste and compared to tablets or powders they have an enjoyable sensorial experience. Simple vitamin supplementation ultimately may be substituted by more holistic supplement formulations."