Despite cutbacks in consumer expenditure and problems in some countries with regard to health claims legislation, interest in healthy options appears to be continuing unabated. Nearly 40 percent of the global launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in 2013 were positioned on a health platform of some kind, mainly in terms of so-called “passive” benefits, such as low and light products, but also increasingly on an “active” health platform. This relates to promoting added health benefits, such as vitamin fortification or the use of probiotics, as well as more specific benefits, such as gut health.
While products marketed on a passive health positioning accounted for over 35 percent of global launches recorded, those promoting active benefits accounted for just 9 percent of the total. The overlap indicates that some products were marketed on both types of benefit.
Globally, dairy launches accounted for the largest number of health claims, ahead of soft drinks, with bakery products in third place. The penetration of health claims is much higher in the first two of these categories, however, with 61 percent of soft drinks launches and 60 percent of dairy launches using claims in 2013, compared with just 31 percent of bakery introductions.
“The initial functional foods on the European market were probiotic yogurts,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “But their market position has been complicated by the ongoing refusal of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to approve probiotic health claims.”
The number of products marketed specifically on a “probiotic” platform continued to grow globally until 2012, peaking at a share of about 0.7 percent of total global food and drinks launches in that year. In 2013, this share fell back to less than 0.5 percent. Within dairy, products marketed on a specific probiotic platform accounted for 3 percent of global launches in 2013, down from 5 percent in 2012, although a much more significant 16 percent used a more general digestive or gut health positioning of some kind.
The rise of Greek and Greek-style strained yogurts, which are inherently higher in protein than standard products, has also paved the way for a new area of interest—yogurts marketed on a high-protein platform. Although most of these are also probiotic, some companies are now diverting attention away from digestive health toward nutrient content.