Healthy Dairy Beverages Maintain Popularity, Says BENEO-Orafti

Dairy beverages that promote health continue to grow in popularity across the globe. New product launches that promote a health benefit have been increasing in popularity and now comprise over 70% of all dairy beverage products launched globally.*

Tim Van der Schraelen, BENEO-Orafti marketing and communication manager, explains further: "We have seen a growing emphasis on health in society as obesity becomes a global problem and although 'convenience' is still a major driver in the promotion of dairy beverages (17% of new products use it to sell the product), this has been overtaken in popularity by 'health' (both active and passive**) as the primary claim used to encourage sales, with 53% of producers using it to sell the product. With this in mind, we have seen more than a 90% increase in the number of dairy beverage products brought to market that contain inulin and oligofructose over the last seven years.

From small beginnings back in 2002 when only 15 dairy beverages contained this active food ingredient, 2008 saw 181 products brought to market globally that contained inulin and oligofructose."

But there is room for growth. For beverage manufacturers wanting to include active food ingredients like OraftiR inulin and oligofructose in products to make health and wellness claims, there is still a big opportunity. With the largest proportion of dairy drink innovations being carried out in Western Europe (28%) and Asia (24%), followed by Latin America (18%), it is interesting to note that North America is still in the lead in developing dairy beverages that contain inulin and oligofructose, with Asia close behind.

Eleven percent of dairy beverages on the market in North America contain this active food ingredient, as opposed to 9% in Asia and 7% in Western Europe.

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of specific health claims within the 'well-being' category and shifting preferences can be seen in the number of new products launched bearing specific claims. Out of the 181 dairy beverages launched in 2008 that contained inulin and oligofructose, the highest proportion of health claims were to do with gut health at 17%. This shows a considerable increase in understanding by consumers of the benefits of digestive health, as only 3% of products were launched with this health claim five years previously. Low fat and low sugar claims on packaging however, seem to be showing few signs of growth, remaining static at 10% and 2% of products launched in 2008 as opposed to 12% and 2% five years ago.

Mr. Van der Schraelen continues: "Increased consumer understanding of specific claims and what they can do for the promotion of health, combined with the tightening of EU legislation on health claim labelling, will continue to prove a challenge for food producers in 2009 and beyond.

Following our own consumer research in December 2008, we have found that promoting the health benefits of a product does increase the appeal of established brands and generates added value. Apart from demonstrating the worth consumers place on health benefits in terms of monetary value, our recent international consumer study also found that there is a gap between interest levels in ingredients and the health benefits they offer. Although consumers might know the names of key ingredients such as vitamin C, calcium, wholegrain or prebiotics, they do not necessarily equate these names with the key health benefits the ingredients provide. By communicating more about the health benefits over and above the names of the ingredients included in the product, manufacturers can add significant value to already premium brands.
"Healthy dairy beverages make up the majority of new product development launches over recent years. Therefore it stands to reason that manufacturers who can tap into this sector with tailored health benefit messages that can be substantiated with scientific proof, will continue to see increased market development and penetration this year and beyond."

Editor's Note:
*Statistics on dairy drink market from **'Health' claims are broken down into two categories: 'health (active)'
and 'health (passive)', the former includes added calcium/fiber/iron and gut health claims and the latter includes reduced fat/sugar and organic categories.

A decade of research
BENEO-Orafti's 2008 consumer insight study is the 15th piece of consumer research commissioned by the company over the past decade. BENEO-Orafti's consumer expertise currently spans 4 continents and 14 different countries and has been carried out both quantitatively and qualitatively. This, coupled with scientific knowledge, has allowed BENEO-Orafti to develop a key strength in the translation of science into consumer friendly language which enables the successful marketing of functional consumer products.

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