The fast-evolving 'complete food' market

By Nikki Hancocks contact

- Last updated on GMT

getty | monkey business
getty | monkey business

Related tags: Sports nutrition, Sports & Active Nutrition Summit Europe, Nutrition, functional beverage, beverage

The 'complete food' category is a totally new and fast-evolving area of nutrition in the sport nutrition industry that is taking the mass market by storm, according Rebecca Williams, nutrition manager at Huel.

Williams will discuss this trend and what it means to consumer perceptions, at the Sports & Active Nutrition Summit​ (SANSE) taking place in Amsterdam next week. 

Speaking to NutraIngredients ahead of her on-stage appearance, Williams explains that being the leader in such a new category means a fast pace of change for the product development team.

"Complete food has really only been around for about 10 years and so there's no government recommended explanation for what the category is...

"We describe it as a food that provides you with everything you need in a day - pro rata. In other words, if you lived on Huel you would have the the recommended minimum intake of all the nutrients and minerals that you need, while keeping the undesirable ingredients to a minimum."

According to Williams, the complete food category is worth $3.9bn and it is expected to grow by 6% to 2028 and with more brands entering this field all the time the mass market is becoming increasingly interested in this option.

This brings a new set of challenges for product development.

"At first we were attracting the strongly nutrition and sustainability minded consumers who had experience of and understood the flavour and texture profile that comes with plant-based proteins. Now we are attracting consumers from the mainstream who are used to the dairy-based creamier flavours and textures.

"We are working to get closer to that profile but without losing out in any other areas that are important to our ethos - nutrition and sustainability. This is a big challenge."

A performance nutritionist by trade, Williams' role with Huel is in the management of research trials and the co-development of Huel’s formulas.

One recently published trial (July 2022) saw 20 participants consume only Huel and water for four weeks. The team took blood tests pre- and post-intervention and found positive "rapid, positive improvements to metabolic health as well as improved profiles of many micronutrient metrics".

Improvements included: Decreased body weight, fat mass & BMI; improved blood glucose markers, improved cholesterol status; increased Vit D, B12, iron, selenium; and alignment of potassium vit A & E to RDA range.

The aim of the study was to help build trust and transparency around the health benefits of 'complete food' products and help build-up the category as a whole.

Williams will discuss this and provide further insights in this area during her talk at the SANSE, taking place in Amsterdam this week (Oct 5-7). There is still time to get your space at the event. For more information and to register, please click HERE​.

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