Food Ingredients Europe 2023: Key themes

By Nikki Hancocks and Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Protein Fermentation Sports nutrition Cognitive health plant-based Collagen Food ingredients europe

Cognitive health, digestion+, beauty-from-within and women's health were some of the key health themes that emerged from Food Ingredients Europe, in Frankfurt, last week (Nov 28-30).

Precision fermentation protein

As expected, there were plenty of protein innovations to be seen, with many plant protein solutions claiming to provide improved flavour and texture profiles and fermented options providing additional health benefits.

At Arla Foods Ingredients, Jeppe Sand Laursen, head of global sales, spotlighted the firm's fermented whey protein drink concepts​ in a range of 'kombucha-like' flavours, providing consumers with the benefits of whey protein but with refreshing flavours and digestive benefits that come from fermentation. 

He explained: "We think this will be a niche product but there's a lot of opportunity as it's so new in the market, we don't see anyone providing a concept like this."

Vicky Davies, global marketing director for performance, active and medical nutrition at FrieslandCampina ingredients, noted a heightened interest in precision fermentation produced proteins as consumers understand these to provide additional health benefits.

Noting the gut-muscle axis as an area of growing consumer interest, FrieslandCampina exhibited its new Biotis Fermentis ingredient​, developed for sports nutrition. The ingredient is created by fermenting protein, prebiotics and probiotics together, in order to boost the health properties of the individual ingredients, “effectively targeting the gut-muscle axis”.

The firm further showcased its Nutri Whey ProHeat ingredient, a heat-stable whey protein designed for the medical nutrition market, designed to help patients access the benefits of whey protein in a nutrient-dense liquid formulation with appealing sensory properties such as a low viscosity, neutral pH and clean taste.

Discussing other trends, Davies noted the gut-brain axis, and cognitive health in general, as a key focus for many consumers.

Cognitive concerns

Also discussing the cognitive health trend, Tony Gay, technical sales director for nutrition at Prinova, said there is appetite from the full spectrum of consumers, from young gamers through to healthy agers, for natural adaptogenic ingredients that help to keep the mind clear and focused.

He explained the firm was showcasing its variety of formats for different audiences which allow consumers to integrate cognitive health ingredients into their daily routine. He spotlighted a citrus raspberry blast drink for younger consumers and a peach iced tea for the older generation, each with the same blend of active ingredients.

Keen to discuss consumer interest in mind health, Dr Stephan Theis, head of the nutrition department at the Beneo Institute, spotlighted Beneo’s prebiotic fibres from chicory root, specifically noting the ingredient’s health benefits via the gut-brain axis.

He noted the firm's recently conducted study​ which concluded the ingredient has a significant positive impact on mood.

 “Consumers are now looking more at their gut health, [but] not just at digestive health,” he said, “they are looking at the ‘plus’ that digestive health promoting ingredients can provide to them, including the gut-brain axis.” 

Plant-based beauty

Alexia Juban Boiron, functional food and drink business manager, Robertet, explained that the beauty-from-within trend is high on the supplier’s radar at the moment and as such the firm was showcasing its Lipowheat ingredient -  a plant-based alternative to collagen.

Boiron explained ​the phytoceramides in Lipowheat naturally restore the ceramides ​essential to the skin’s barrier function. The firm has recently launched an emulsion format of this ingredient to allow for the integration into ‘beauty shot’ drinks, to improve consumer experience of taking this ingredient.

And there were several other vegan collagen alternatives to be spotted. Joshua White, marketing manager at Protec Nutra, showcased the firm’s range of vegan ingredients including a plant-based collagen alternative named ‘Vollagen’.

He said: “Vegan collagen has definitely become more of a hot topic over the last 18 months or so. I can see looking around this show and other shows that it’s a big trend at the moment.”

At Rousselot’s stand, Florencia Moreno Torres, global business development manager, health and nutrition, discussed the wide range of formats for the Rousselot Peptan collagen ingredient, from orange juice, to chocolate, coffee shots, protein bars, and even hot soup.

She explained the aim of the high versatility is to help consumers integrate the ingredient into their daily routine as it is important to take the product daily in order to attain its health benefits.

Women's health

Sébastien Bornet, vice president of global sales and marketing at Horphag Research, supplier of Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract, noted that women's health is a prominent trend, encompassing various health concerns from menstrual discomfort to cognitive function, which in turn informs interest in energy, mental performance, and memory across different age groups.

For Gelita, the trend of note is the growing interest in gut health and menopausal health for women. Category manager Martin Walter explained this also plays into interest in the active ageing trend and improving health through exercise.

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