Functional innovation should target ‘planet-first’ nutrition

By Nicola Gordon-Seymour

- Last updated on GMT

Functional innovation should target ‘planet-first’ nutrition

Related tags: Frieslandcampina, Future, Vitamin c

More consumers are recognising the link between personal and environmental health and will choose brands based on transparency and ‘ethical consciousness’, according to a report from FrieslandCampina Ingredients.

The report ‘Shaping the future of nutrition​’​ highlights changing consumer attitudes to nutrition since the pandemic and identifies potential areas for innovation and NPD in 2022.

It points out that 2021 was characterised by a shift in mindset with greater emphasis on the health of the plant and holistic solutions to improve health.

The pandemic has increased anxieties around health and well-being, it says, and engendered a greater appreciation of the link between health and the environment, with 65% of consumers believing food and nutrition brands should do more to protect the planet.

COVID-19 has put health and wellness concerns front of mind, both for the individual and as a collective global population”,​ says FrieslandCampina Global Marketing Director, Performance, Active and Medical Nutrition, Vicky Davies.

“The pandemic has sharpened focus on sustainability and how environmental health influences our current and future well-being.

“It is crucial for brands to embrace and steer these trends. Environmental concern has never been higher and it’s clear the nutrition industry needs to be at the forefront of positive sustainability change.​ 

A holistic approach

Two thirds of respondents recognise gut health is key to achieving overall well-being and for many, taking a holistic approach was “the ultimate goal in 2022”​.

Improving general health and wellness through sleep, mood and physical fitness was cited a priority among 60% of consumers to build resilience after a stressful couple of years.

Mental health has been a key issue and the pandemic has accentuated underlying concerns but “the challenge will be creating solutions that consumers trust to improve resilience” ​the report says.

Using reputable ingredients, like protein, vitamin C and iron, in new formulations could be the answer.

Davies comments: “Brands are feeling the pressure to keep up with to date with ever-evolving demands, as consumer behaviours continue to shift and be shaped by external forces.”

Nevetheless, FrieslandCampina predicts a growth opportunity for food, drinks and supplements that target specific health trends, like immunity or sleep, by including gut-boosting ingredients such as prebiotics.

Flexitarian solutions

Over a quarter of consumers considered themselves flexitarians and regularly incorporate plant-based ingredients into their diets, alongside traditional protein sources.

This provides an opportunity for products that combine plant and dairy protein, according to Anne Peter Lindeboom, FrieslandCampina, Managing Director Innovation.

NPD is just hitting its stride and there is still an opportunity for brands to stand out. For example, hybrid dairy and plant protein is a relatively white space.

“Balancing nutrition and taste are key to success – pulse ingredients like peas and faba beans offer a fantastic base to create truly tasty, innovative products that consumers will love.”

Healthy ageing

There is also buoyant demand for new and innovative food products to support healthy aging, the report maintains.

Older consumers are actively re-evaluating their health and diet, and 90% are looking for healthy benefits in everyday foods instead of turning to supplements to support their dietary requirements.

It recommends abandonning pills and powders in favour of “tasty treats” and fortified foods similar to functional foods in Asia where 47% of food and drink include a “senior related mention​”.

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