Findings from the firm’s OutsideVoiceSM consumer insights platform identifies the gut as a ‘gateway to wellness’ and as one of five emerging that serve to address behavioural and societal changes occurring as a result of the pandemic.
“The global health crisis has changed consumer preferences in new and unexpected ways,” says Vince Macciocchi, senior vice president, president of ADM's Nutrition business unit.
“We are seeing a heightened demand for foods and beverages that support immune systems, enhance our mood and reduce our environmental impact, driven in part by emerging human tensions.
“This has provided a unique opportunity for brands to develop disruptive new products that will forever change the way we eat and drink. It’s going to be a year of innovation, marked by significant breakthroughs in nutrition,” adds Macciocchi, who is also the company’s chief sales and marketing officer.
According to Euromonitor, around 25% of global consumers suffer from digestive health issues. Of those, 50% claim that it has a moderate or severe impact on their overall health.
ADM believes that this effect, coupled with the pandemic’s impact, has shifted consumer interest to a more holistic approach to health that includes a greater understanding of the of the gut microbiome’s role on health.
Weight and immunity
Products targeting the microbiome have been shown to help address specific metabolic conditions and issues such as weight management, immune system support and better emotional well-being.
This provides fertile ground for food and beverage innovation with functional solutions like prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics that support microbiome function.
Whilst products cannot claim to directly address or tackle the coronavirus, they can be marketed to address related concerns such as immune system support or helping to prevent respiratory tract infections (RTIs).
Culturelle’s probiotic range that contains strains of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) are promoted as supporting a healthy immune system as well as digestive and immune health.
Likewise, Danone’s Actimel fermented drink, which contains the strain Lactobacillus casei DN-114 001 and vitamins D and B6, claims to help support the immune system.
The inclusion of vitamins gives rise to another trend identified by ADM as a more proactive approach to mental and physical health is also recognised.
Research by the organisation finds that 31% of consumers are purchasing more items tailored for their health with 50% reporting a preference for foods and beverages that naturally contain beneficial ingredients.
“The desire to influence health and wellness through foods and beverages is creating new opportunities for nutrient-dense products with functional health benefits aimed at supporting immune systems, enhancing mood and sustaining energy,” says ADM
“Sensory factors like flavour and colour are also playing an increasingly crucial role. Consumers are gravitating toward foods and beverages with bright and exciting colours that indicate citrus flavours, with their naturally occurring Vitamin C, as well as products with familiar, nostalgic flavours during these stressful times.”
The trend also extends to the use of these flavours and colours as cleaner ingredients, as ADM identifies the greater need for transparency in order to build consumer trust.
The report adds that with many are now seeking natural alternatives such as elderberries that give a product a rich blue hue. Also preferred are peppermint and mint to provide a ‘cool’ flavour in foods and beverages.
“Consumers expect food labels to provide greater transparency around the entire product life cycle helping drive the demand for locally sourced products as consumers seek greater clarity on where the ingredients in food and beverages come from. In fact, 26% of global consumers look for the country of origin on food and drink labels.
“The global pandemic has drastically changed consumer perceptions of the world, influencing the way we eat, drink and connect with one another.
“With these nutrition trends gaining steam in 2021 and beyond, ADM is positioned to provide brands with the innovative solutions required to meet customer needs in an ever-changing marketplace.”