Comet recently released its digestive health trend predictions for the year. The company, headquartered in London, Ontario and Schaumburg, Illinois, uses its patented upcycling technology to produce ingredients. According to the report’s author, Hannah Ackermann, RD, Senior Manager at Comet, the top 3 digestive trends are focused on gut health, personalization and sustainability.
Gut health is life
With an estimated 4 in 10 adults suffering from functional gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS, it’s no surprise many are looking to improve their gut health. In fact, a 2022 International Food Information Council survey revealed that nearly three-quarters of Americans ranked digestive health high on their list of health priorities, with 24% ranking it their No. 1 priority.
The increased interest is unsurprising given that 4 in10 adults suffer from a functional gastrointestinal disorder such as IBS, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders.
“Consumers no longer accept uncomfortable digestive health symptoms, including bloating or gut discomfort, as part of ‘normal’ life—they are actively seeking solutions and looking to the latest gut microbiome research for answers,” Ackermann said.
She added that one positive impact that emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic is that many consumers had ample time to focus on their health and become more attuned to digestive health symptoms.
Beyond stomach discomfort, Ackermann noted that just under 75% of global consumers are becoming more aware of research on the gut-brain axis, which highlights the relationship between a healthy gut, cognition and mental health.
Of all the trends she’s seeing, Ackermann said she’s most excited by consumers’ increasing prioritization of gut health.
“It is inspiring to see the category garnering well-deserved attention. The scientific community is learning more every day about how gut microbiome health affects the entire body, including not only digestive health, but also mental health, immunity, cognition and more,” said Ackermann. “Consumers are taking note of the emerging research and ranking gut health high on their list of health priorities. In 2023, consumers will look for ingredients that support the growth of beneficial bacteria strains linked to specific health benefits such as cognition or immunity. Prebiotics are in an optimal position to cater to this interest due to their clinically-proven benefits across the body.”
The 2022 ITC Insights Consumer Supplement User Prebiotic Category report found that 85% of consumers are aware of prebiotics, and more than 25% have purchased products containing prebiotics. The same report found that consumers perceive prebiotics as extremely effective. Ackermann said this positive perception demonstrates a robust opportunity for brands to highlight the diversity of prebiotics on the market and their specific benefits.
The second trend in the report underscores the increased demand for personalized options, especially those related to the gut microbiome.
Whether it’s Thorne’s Microbiome Wipe for gut health testing, Sun Genomics fully customized precision probiotic Floré, or even a ‘smart toilet’ that uses artificial intelligence to track chronic gastrointestinal ailments, consumers are getting personal by embracing technology.
As time goes on, more consumers are seeking personalized offerings. According to a 2022 McKinsey & Co. survey, nearly 4 in 10 consumers report being much more likely to prioritize personalized options than they were one year ago.
As technology becomes more advanced and data sets grow larger, we can only expect personalization to expand and attract more users.
Consumers aren’t just concerned about their own health–they’re concerned about the planet’s too. According to a 2022 Innova survey, the planet’s health is now consumers’ top global concern over the population's health.
Globally, just under half of consumers reported that they changed their diet in the last two years to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, according to a FMCG Gurus 2022 report. Food waste is also a top concern, with 62% of consumers willing to pay more for products that combat it, according to Innova.
Looking ahead, Ackermann said we can expect to see an increase in ingredients with sustainability claims such as Upcycled Certified, Comet Bio’s third-party certification program for upcycled food ingredients and products. According to the Hartman Group, on-package certifications like Upcycled Certified really resonates, with nearly 70% of consumers having a greater intention of buying a product that is Upcycled Certified.