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Digestive health predicted to be top 2008 trend

European Commission awash in petitions for health claims

DanoneInternational Author and editor of New Nutrition Business and Kids Nutrition Report, Julian Mellentin, has released his 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2008, and it is no surprise digestive health comes out on top, as consumers feel the benefits of an ever-widening array of pre- and probiotic foods and beverages.

Mellentin's Top 10 Trends
  1. Digestive health
  2. Fruit & superfruit
  3. Naturally healthy
  4. Beauty foods
  5. Weight management
  6. Mood food
  7. Premiumisation
  8. Snacks
  9. Kids' nutrition
  10. Antioxidants
Click here for more on fibre's increasing role in the digestive-health market.
Mellentin notes that of 759 health-claim petitions submitted to the European Commission for consideration under new pan-European legislation, more were themed on digestive health than any other health concern. When coupled with immunity, of which there are many overlaps when it comes to health claims, there were 199 petitions. The next highest category was antioxidants, with 51 petitions.

The European, Japanese and US digestive-health markets were worth $6.5 billion, 80 per cent of which were dairy products. "For makers of dietary fibres and probiotics the future also looks very bright," Mellentin wrote. "The market for digestive-health products has developed into an enduring success story, and digestive health has become the biggest segment of the functional-foods market… In addition, interest in the gut is growing, as scientists develop a better understanding of how gut health connects to areas as various as immunity and allergy."

Probiotic juices should see strong growth as a format that checks consumers' taste and convenience boxes, and Mellentin predicted the launch of a new probiotic-juice range in the US by soy-milk pioneer Steve Demos would experience quick success, thanks to the probiotic doors that had been kicked open in North America by Danone and its probiotic spoonable yoghurt (Activia) and drinking yoghurt (DanActiv).

Mellentin noted the success that Danone's progressive and aggressive business model is achieving, as well as the importance of Japan — the innovation hotbed that is providing leads to a lot of companies, including giants such as France's Danone.

He said digestive products were succeeding where heart-health products weren't necessarily, because, "Digestive health is a 'wellness' issue, not (like cholesterol-lowering) a 'death and disease' issue. As we have seen repeatedly over the last 10 years, wellness benefits appeal to a wider range of consumers, whereas medicalised benefits appeal only to a niche who are at fairly immediate risk from a medical condition."

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