By Kimberly Lord Stewart, Todd Runestad, Kantha Shelke
OK admit it … when it came time to ring in the New Year, you gladly said goodbye to 2009. It's been a tough year. Though, you can thank your carburetor that this is not the automotive industry. The functional foods, beverage, supplements and ingredients categories actually squeezed out a modest eight per cent average growth for 2009. All things considered, that is pretty phenomenal. With that good news in mind, FI makes its predictions for the year.
By 2013, Freedonia Research group predicts that global sales for the functional and nutraceutical food, beverage and supplements category will reach $21.8 billion. And according to Natural Marketing Institute, 26 per cent of Americans believe that functional foods could be used in place of some medicines. All good news, but first, one has to survive the coming year.
Perhaps the biggest trend of all is the growing interest of Generations X and Y in foods and beverages that focus on wellness and appearance. Unlike the baby boom generation's interest in health conditions such as cardio and joint health, Gen Xers and Yers care about how they feel and how they look — a trend we call V2, vitality and vanity (see trend Number 3). So think energy, stamina, body sculpting, clear skin and even white teeth.
Wait, there is more good news … did you know there is a baby boom happening right now? Baby boomers' kids, the Gen Xers and Gen Yers are having kids — a trend we call the baby boomlets. Top of mind for these parents is: 1. family health and the health-care crisis; 2. the very real fact that children are developing diabetes and heart disease before they reach double-digit ages; and 3. the cloud over everyone's head — the economy.
These parents are increasingly turning away from foods with high fructose corn syrup, sodium and trans fats, and turning toward foods with clean labels — ingredients they can pronounce. Also, when boomlets come down with a common childhood ailment like a cold or upset stomach, their parents are more likely to reach for products with ingredients they recognise and feel safe using such as elderberry and ginger.
1. I get it
Consumers increasingly "get" the health value of ingredients such as: Acai • Aloe • Antioxidants • Calcium • Chondroitin • Co-Q10 • Fibre • Ginkgo biloba • Glucosamine • Gluten • Lutein • Lycopene • Magnesium • Omega-3s • Phyto-nutrients • Plant Sterols • Prebiotics • robiotics • Proteins • Resveratrol • Saw palmetto • Stevia • Vitamins A,B,C,D and E
Source: SPINS, Natural Marketing Institute, Freedonia Research, Nutrition Business Journal.
2. Supplements over drinks
As the health-care debate in the US lingers, a convergence of ideals is merging in wellness and disease prevention, self care and value. This trend was cemented in November 2009 when a New England Journal of Medicine study showed that a prescription form of niacin out performed Merck's Zetia and Vytorin for plaque build-up and cholesterol reduction. Better news is that the prescription form of niacin is twice the cost of the drugs (odd), but a time-release niacin supplement costs less than a daily newspaper at 44 cents per day. Score one for supplements.
3. Ingredients with benefits
According to research by Natural Marketing Institute, ingredients are good, but consumers buy benefits not components. According to its latest study on consumer trends, the top conditions still top of mind are foods that address heart health, immune function, digestive health and cholesterol reduction.
From an ingredients perspective, fibre, especially prebiotic fibres, will play out as a strong solution provider to all of these conditions. "2010 may very well become the year of fibre," says Kantha Shelke, FI's editor at large and principal at CorvusBlue. "Fibre is the prescribed remedy for practically every health issue and fibre will continue to be the destination ingredient in processed foods. Not bad for a macro-ingredient that has been recommended by the Surgeon General for more than two decades. It belongs in the top categories of weight management, heart healthy, lower calorie and digestive health."
Digestive health is perhaps the one category that young and old relate to — hence continued sales growth in 2010. According to Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), digestive-health sales were up 4 per cent from 2007 to 2008 with probiotics and digestive enzymes leading the category. The key to continued growth will be communication. "If you ask people if they have a digestive problem, they will tell you no," says Terese Mansell, president of National Enzyme (NEC), "but ask about specific symptoms such as gas and bloating and "they say sure." Messaging is the key.
An up-and-coming category with tremendous growth potential through the coming year is the immune category. Even though Kellogg's pulled the immunity claim from Rice Krispies and bad actors continue to make false H1N1 health claims, consumers are buying supplements with hopes of preventing cold and flu. According to SPINS, echinacea and elderberry sales spiked in May 2009 and continued to see brisk sales when it was apparent that swine-flu vaccines would not be available in a timely fashion.
Vitamin C remains a strong performer with sales of $56 million as of the end of March 2009. FI predicts that Fast C will be an ingredient to watch in 2010 because of its unique formulation using Sabinsa's Bioperine, which improves bioavailability and retention (distributed by ET Horn in partnership as Alkemy Partners).
As research grows so does the understanding about specialty ingredients that focus on adapting rather than boosting an already-overworked immune response. This is where ingredients such as Embria Health's EpiCor, Biothera's Wellmune WGP and Lonza's ResistAid are positioned well. Recent studies show immune adaptation as the focal point among these ingredients. For instance, in August 2009, EpiCor was shown to significantly reduce seasonal allergen responses. Since its introduction in 2007, Wellmune is now considered a benchmark ingredient after numerous positive clinical trials, and was recognised by Frost and Sullivan's 2009 Research of the Year Award. And ResistAid shows an adaptive immune response to specific antigens, following a pneumonia shot, says Bryan Rodriguez, technical marketing and scientific affairs manager at Lonza.
4. V2 vs the SWELS
As in 2009, SWELS (seniors with energetic lifestyles) and Gen Y singles and Gen X parents of baby boomlets are primary drivers of the functional-food and beverage market, but that does not mean they have carbon-copy needs.
5. Soothing and stirring flavours
The flavour trends for 2010 are warm and comforting such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, fennel seed, cardamom, sweet potato, and tropicals such as hibiscus and cupuacu, with one delicate flower among the bunch — rose water (Mintel and McCormick Spice). Beverages are always at the brim of flavour innovation. Kimberly Carson, director of beverage solutions at Sensient, predicts these top beverage flavour trends:
Baobab: Native to Africa and high in antioxidants and Vitamin C.
Caja: Brazilian tropical citrus profile has a high carotenoid content.
Cape Gooseberry: South American with a uniquely sweet and tangy taste.
Elderflower: A lightly sweet flavour.
Kumquat: A plethora of tastes from sweet to sour to salt.
Lulo: South American offers a distinctly different citrus taste.
Maqui: South American super-antioxidant could be the next big thing.
Marula: African with a high level of vitamin C and a juicy, tart flavour.
Mora Berry: A sweet, tart flavour similar to raspberry and blackberry.
Umbu: Native to Brazil, the umbu offers a sweetly aromatic flavour.
6. Eye Health
Eye care continues to show up as an acutely visible category. Lutein leads sales with 36 per cent of the market followed by multivitamins and fish/animal oils. Freedonia Group predicts that for the next five years, lutein will see continued growth, which places ingredient such as OmniActive's Lutemax, LycoRed's Lyc-O-Lutein, Kemin FloraGLO and Cognis Xangold in a very positive light.
7. Accentuate the positive with negatives
Labelling has gone naked. Consumers want clean labels with words they recognise, and the fewer ingredients the better. "The interest in 'back to basics' has driven interest in natural and clean-label foods. More natural ingredients, including natural sweeteners extracted from source such as apple, agave and maple syrup, are on the rise, and EU approval of the high-intensity natural sweetener stevia also looks close," says Innova Market Insights trends report.
In addition, according to research by Health Focus International, consumers seek out negative labels such as low sodium, low cholesterol and no and low calories.
Among this list, sodium is at the top of the heap. After years of public messaging about the dangers of too much sodium from the government and food watchdog groups, consumers want less sodium in their food.
From a food-formulations perspective, easier said than done. "There is no silver bullet to removing sodium from food products," says Carlos Rodriguez, marketing manager for Cargill's salt business unit, and substitution is not a one-for-one process. Cargill offers three ingredients, each with a unique purpose — Premier potassium chloride (potassium and sodium balance), SaltWise sodium reduction system (25 to 50 percent sodium reduction) and Alberger Brand Salt (hollow pyramid shape for topical salt applications).
8. Stevia and its partner ingredients
It's no secret that stevia has captured the attention of beverage formulators. It's anyone guess who will be first with a mainstream beverage brand sweetened with Reb-A. Not only is stevia gaining market share, so are the sister ingredients that give Reb-A bulk, texture and flavour to mask bitterness. Paul Paslaski of BioVittoria USA believes that Lo Han Guo (branded Fruit Sweetness) can fill stevia's dance card as a bitter-free formulations flavour partner.
"Moms prefer natural fruit sweeteners for their children," Paslaski says. "Stevia has a nice sweet onset, but also delivers a bitter-licorice aftertaste. Fruit-Sweetness monk fruit has a pleasant lingering sweet/honey taste that masks the bitter-licorice aftertaste from stevia. In addition, natural high intensity sweeteners have upper use levels. When used in combination at a lower level both stevia and Fruit-Sweetness monk fruit can deliver a better overall taste."
9. Body Composition
Losing 30 pounds in 30 days is out — gaining muscle mass and losing fat is in. That doesn't mean Americans are throwing out the bathroom scale, but look for products that promote muscle retention and muscle building over simple weight loss such as combos of protein and specialized ingredients like Lonza's Carnipure. "Carnipure L-Carnitine from Lonza appears to play a role in promoting a healthy body weight and the build-up of muscle mass when used as part of an overall weight-management programme that includes energy restriction and exercise," says Kevin Owen, Ph.D., NAFTA head of technical marketing and scientific affairs at Lonza.
Whether losing weight, improving body shape or preventing sarcopenia (muscle loss associated with ageing and illness), protein is a vital component in muscle retention. A 2008 study in Nutrition and Metabolism showed Glanbia's Prolibra as a strong candidate for reducing muscle loss and increasing fat loss in obese subjects. Ingredients such as this may give frustrated dieters the incentive they need to stay on task with a healthy diet and extended weight loss.
10. Pearly whites, naturally
Conventional oral health care sales remained flat in 2008 (Mintel), but natural oral care product sales rose 14.2 per cent from $68.8 million in 2006 to $78.6 million in 2008. Organic Monitor predicts the US growth to be closer to 25 per cent and 15 per cent in the EU. Expect to see more brands of long-lasting natural mouthwash and whitening toothpastes from industry leader Tom's of Maine and ingredients like mint, aloe, tea tree and even pine nut oil and pineapple extract to show up in dental-health products.