Fad diets come and go, but the concept of personalized nutrition has staying power for the long term. In the wake of the public health crisis, consumers are looking to nourish themselves with nutrient-dense foods and are seeking out health benefits such as strengthening the immune system, improving respiratory health, and even reducing anxiety.
Mental and physical health are among the biggest concerns for consumers going back to a new post-pandemic normality. Consumers are looking to feed not only their body, but their souls through products with probiotics, high protein foods, antioxidant-rich ingredients, and calming foods and beverages. Today, there is a greater emphasis on the ingredients in our food and what those health claims are rather than what has been removed.
This shift in focus is evidenced by the decline in traditional claims consumers once sought like “cholesterol free” and “low fat” while protein, antioxidants and probiotics are getting a boost. In both foodservice and retail, we’ll be seeing more product and ingredient claims that relate to functional benefits.
Eighty-six percent of consumers agree eating healthy is important for a strong immune system, according to Mintel’s Better for You Eating Trends, US (Nov. 2020). Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Mintel reports 37 percent of U.S. consumers have prioritized healthy eating, 47 percent changed the type of basic groceries they buy, and 64 percent selected more nutrient-dense foods.
Products like beef jerky seasoned with powdered chaga mushrooms (purported to have anti-inflammatory properties) or barbecue sauce made with goji and acai berries (both adaptogens) will become popular as consumers look for simple ways to adjust their eating habits to optimize personal health.
Eating at Home Remains a Priority
Despite easing restrictions, 55 percent of consumers in September 2020 indicated they felt uncomfortable dining indoors, according to Mintel’s COVID-19 Consumer Tracker. Spending on healthy foods is likely to continue to grow as many adults continue to prepare more meals at home. For most, fresh ingredients, especially produce, are considered a key component to healthy meals. However, Mintel’s Better for You Eating Trends – US (Nov. 2020) says better-for-you brands have opportunities to highlight functional ingredients that packaged foods contain.
Better-for-you brands can become a tool to help consumers feel more in control of their health and wellness during this health crisis. Immune support-specific foods, such as those with probiotics and herbal ingredients, can help better-for-you brands increase their bandwidth as the pandemic continues. For example, Nature’s Garden recently expanded its line of better-for-you products with Immune Booster Fruit Balls, a plant-based snack full of ingredients that claim to support a healthy immune system, such as probiotics, elderberry and vitamins C and D.
More than one quarter of adults aged 18 to 44 say they consider protein content when planning their meals. Additionally, most consumers who eat plant-based proteins do so to be healthier, and this sentiment is highest among people age 18 to 44. The appeal of plant-based proteins continues to increase, and the main reason adults consume these products is to be healthier.
Better-for-you brands like Life Cuisine are aiming to please consumers seeking protein from both animal- and plant-based sources. The brand offers frozen meals that cater to plant-based, low carb, gluten free and high protein lifestyles.
Protein powder manufacturers are also getting personal, allowing consumers to customize protein powder to their individual needs. For example, Gainful offers an in-depth interactive quiz that yields a personalized plant- or dairy-based protein blend in six flavors, based upon body proportions, fitness goals, intolerances, and other lifestyle measures such as sleep duration.
Snacking Made Better
More than half of consumers globally claim to proactively seek products that are beneficial to their health, according to GlobalData’s 2019 Q3 global consumer survey. Food and beverage manufacturers continuously look for new ways to gain market share and attract new target audiences.
In 2019, for example, PepsiCo acquired PopCorners’ owner Better For You Foods to enhance its premium snack portfolio. The savory snack is low in calories, gluten-free and uses local family-owned non-GMO farms across the Midwest for production. PepsiCo recognized PopCorners’ opportunity to gain market share in healthy snacking as U.S. consumer demand for healthy eating continues to increase.
Food manufacturers have been balancing consumer demand for healthier products with the continued desire for a full, impactful flavor, which created the “guilt-free” or healthy indulgence sub-market. During the COVID-19 lockdowns last year, GlobalData reported UK-based Skinny Food launched a new #NotGuilty Jam portfolio that it says contains 85 percent less calories and 93 percent less sugar than standard jams, appealing to consumers looking for a better-for-you comfort food.
Masters of Masking
At Innova Flavors, we offer tailored flavor solutions so you can deliver taste and functionality. We are the experts at meat and savory flavors, creating desirable taste profiles, disguising unpleasant notes such as bitterness, and making finished products more palatable.
For example, we recently created a honey lemon-flavored latte featuring moringa, which is a type of tree found in India and Asia, as well as other tropical climates. Sources claim moringa leaves have higher anti-inflammatory properties than other superfoods like turmeric and kale. It is also said to be an “adaptogenic” ingredient, which means it adapts to what your body needs to promote physiological homeostasis. Moringa is also said to be a good source of calcium, iron, vitamin A and is packed with antioxidants.
However, moringa is known to be very bitter and one of the more difficult better-for-you ingredients to mask and flavor. Contact us for a tasting demonstration to see how our masking capabilities transform the less-than-desirable moringa taste into a refreshing honey lemon-flavored latte with all the health benefits and none of the bitterness.