Natural Foods Merchandiser

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. But you can thank your carburetor that this is not the automotive industry. The functional food, beverage, supplements and ingredients
categories actually squeezed out a modest 8 percent average growth for 2009. All things considered, that is pretty phenomenal. With that good news in mind, we make our top 10 predictions for this year.

Perhaps the biggest trend of all is the growing interest by Generations X and Y for 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 X and Y 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.

But there is a new kind of baby boom happening right now. Baby boomers’ kids, the Gen X and Gen Yers, are having kids—a trend we call the baby boomlets. Top of mind for these parents: family health and the healthcare crisis.

1. "I get it."
Consumers increasingly “get” the health value of certain ingredients: aÇai, aloe, antioxidants, calcium, chondroitin, Co-Q10, fiber, gingko biloba, glucosamine, gluten, lutein, lycopene, magnesium, omega-3s, phytonutrients, plant sterols, prebiotics, probiotics, proteins, resveratrol, saw palmetto, stevia, and vitamins A, B, C, D and E.

2. Accentuate the positive with negatives
Labeling has gone naked. Consumers want clean labels with words they recognize, and the fewer ingredients the better. In addition, according to research by St. Petersbug, Fla.-based Health Focus International, consumers seek out “negative” labels such as low sodium, low cholesterol and no and low calories.

Sodium is at the top of this list. 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.

3. V2 versus the SWELS
As in 2009, SWELS (seniors with energetic lifestyles), Gen Y singles and Gen X parents of baby boomlets are primary drivers of the functional food and beverage market, but that doesn’t mean they have carbon-copy needs:
Gen Y & Gen X
Convenience & value
Clean labels & pure ingredients
Detoxification (singles)
Family health (new parents)
Vitality & stress reduction

Quality & value
Supplements over functional foods
Emotional connections & experiential purchasing
Prevention & self care
Supplements for conditions
(vision, joint, cognitive, cholesterol, cardio, fatigue, cancer)
Active aging & quality of life

4. Eye health
The eyes have it for senior health. Eye care continues to show up as an acutely visible category. As often as consumers age 50+ reach for their reading glasses, they are also looking for supplements and functional foods that address vision loss. U.S. consumer sales of supplements for eye health totaled $331 million in 2008, according to Nutrition Business Journal. Lutein leads sales with 36 percent of the market, followed by multivitamins and fish/animal oils. Cleveland-based research firm Freedonia Group predicts that for the next five years, lutein will see continued growth, which places ingredients such as OmniActive’s Lutemax, LycoRed’s Lyc-O-Lutein, Kemin FloraGLO and Cognis Xangold in a very positive light.

5. Soothing and stirring flavors
The flavor 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 a delicate flower among the bunch—rosewater, according to research firm Mintel and McCormick Spice.

Beverages are always at the brim of flavor innovation. Kimberly Carson, director of beverage solutions at Milwaukee-based Sensient Technologies, predicts these top beverage flavor trends:

Baobab. Native to Africa and high in antioxidants and vitamin C, the baobab fruit is tart and lemony.
Caja. Native to Brazil, the caja fruit offers a tropical citrus profile and has a high carotenoid content.
Cape gooseberry. Native to South America, the cape gooseberry has a uniquely sweet and tangy taste.
Elderflower. Found throughout warmer parts of Europe and North America, elderflower has a lightly sweet flavor.
Kumquat. Originating in China, kumquat offers a plethora of tastes from sweet to sour to salt.
Lulo. Native to South America, the lulo offers a distinctly different citrus taste.
Maqui. Found in South America,
the maqui is expected to be a next-generation superfruit due its high antioxidant content.
Marula. Indigenous to Southern Africa, the marula has a high level of vitamin C with a juicy and tart flavor.
Mora berry. Found in Colombia, the mora berry offers a sweet and tart flavor similar to that of raspberry and blackberry.
Umbu. Native to Brazil, the umbu has a sweetly aromatic flavor.

6. Ingredients with benefits
According to the Natural Marketing Institute, ingredients are good, but consumers buy benefits, not components. NMI’s latest study on consumer trends shows that top of mind are foods that address heart health, digestive health, immune function and cholesterol reduction.

Fiber for all. From an ingredient perspective, fiber, especially prebiotic fibers, will play out as a strong solution provider to all of these conditions. “2010 may very well become the year of fiber,” says Kantha Shelke, principal at Chicago-based Corvus Blue nutritional consulting firm. “Fiber is the prescribed remedy for practically every health issue, and fiber 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 health, low calorie and digestive health.”

Digestion. It’s the one category that young and old relate to—hence continued sales growth in 2010. According to Nutrition Business Journal, digestive health ingredient sales were up 4 percent 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 Forsyth, Mo.-based National Enzyme Co. But ask about specific symptoms such as gas and bloating and “they say ‘sure,’” according to Mansell. Messaging is the key.

Immunity. 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 Chicago-based market research company SPINS, echinacea and elderberry sales spiked in May 2009 and continued to see brisk activity when it was apparent that swine-flu vaccines would not be available in a timely fashion.

Vitamin C remains a strong performer with sales reaching $56 million as of the end of March 2009. Fast C will be an ingredient to watch because of its unique formulation using Sabinsa’s Bioperine, which improves bioavailability and retention.

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 it was recognized with Frost and Sullivan’s 2009 Research of the Year Award. And Resistaid showed an adaptive immune response to specific antigens, following a pneumonia shot. The study also showed an immunomodulatory effect, “meaning it enhanced the appropriate response to the antigen without indiscriminately enhancing other arms of the immune system that would not be expected to respond,” says Bryan Rodriguez, technical marketing and scientific affairs manager at Lonza.

7. Pearly whites, naturally
Conventional oral health–care sales remained flat in 2008, according to Mintel, but natural oral-care product sales in the U.S. rose 14.2 percent, from $68.8 million in 2006 to $78.6 million in 2008. London-based research firm Organic Monitor predicts the U.S. growth of oral-care product sales this year to be closer to 25 percent. Either way, consumer demand is strong. 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 oil and even pine nut oil and pineapple extract to show up in dental health products.

8. Stevia and its partners
It’s no secret that stevia has captured the attention of beverage formulators. It’s anyone’s guess who will be first with a mainstream beverage brand sweetened with it. Not only is stevia gaining market share, so are the sister ingredients that give it bulk, texture and flavor to mask bitterness. Paul Paslaski of BioVittoria USA believes that lo han quo fruit sweetener can fill stevia’s dance card as a bitter-free formulations flavor partner.

9. Body Composition
“Lose 30 pounds in 30 days” is out— “gain muscle mass and lose 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 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 program that includes energy restriction and exercise,” says Kevin Owen, PhD, NAFTA head of technical marketing and scientific affairs at Lonza.

Whey proteins play an ever important role for muscle retention for both young and old. Whether it’s for weight loss, improving body shape or preventing sarcopenia (muscle loss associated with aging 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.

10. Supplements over drugs
As the health care debate 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 outperformed Merck’s Zetia and Vytorin for plaque buildup and cholesterol reduction. Better news is that the prescription form of niacin is twice the cost of the drugs, but a time-release niacin supplement costs less than a daily newspaper at 44 cents per day. Score one for supplements.

Kimberly Lord Stewart is editoral director of Functional Ingredients. Todd Runestad is science editor of Functional Ingredients. Kantha Shelke is principal at Corvus Blue.

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