What overarching trends are you seeing in the premix industry?
As consumers are becoming more health conscious, the awareness and knowledge of how to implement a healthy diet is increasing. Fortification was once the domain of sports nutrition and supplements, but is now moving firmly into the mainstream, with many food and beverage manufacturers including it in their formulations. It is also no longer solely aimed at a younger demographic, with many older people looking for nutritional food and beverages that they believe will help them live a healthier life as they age. This is reflected in the rise of health ingredients that show promise in areas of disease prevention, the treatment of existing conditions or in the improvement of mental and physical wellbeing.
Other key trends include clean label, natural and vegan across all product groups in the fortification category, in response to continued consumer preferences for food and beverage from more ‘natural’ sources. This increasingly broad vision of ‘natural’ is allowing a whole spectrum of application approaches, from food powders to innovative delivery of nutrients from plant sources.
We are also seeing buying behaviour shift from purely physical health, to emotional health, relaxation and wellbeing. For instance, although energy drinks are well-established in the market, there has been growing interest in products with specific amino acids and vitamins supporting relaxation. Over 30% of younger Italian and French consumers (16-24 years), for example, are turning to functional food and beverages to help them relax and reduce stress.1
In terms of premixes for different demographics, what are the following age groups looking for?
The right nutrition during infancy is essential for the healthy development of a child. While breast milk remains the gold standard for infant nutrition, thanks to its unique composition, there are many reasons why breastfeeding is sometimes not possible. The development of formulations for healthy growth and development - that can be adjusted to different life stages - therefore plays a crucial role in infant nutrition. Manufacturers are focusing on emulating mother’s milk as closely as possible, with the addition of additives, such as prebiotics, nucleotides and fats, to better support infant growth.
One of the latest breakthroughs in infant formulas is the use of human milk oligosaccharides (HMO), which are the third largest solid component in mother’s milk after lactose and lipids. Studies have shown that it is one of the key differences between breast milk and cow’s milk, and could be the reason why breastfed babies often have a better immune system than those that are formula-fed.
Young adults are becoming increasingly proactive in maintaining – and improving – their health, as interest grows in disease prevention and ‘future-proofing’ their health as they age. As such, we are seeing a shift towards adaptogenic herbs and botanicals that have roots in traditional medicine, for consumers looking to address stress and fatigue concerns through more ‘natural’ and holistic ingredients. For example, 35% of consumers have tried plant-based vitamins or minerals in the last month, according to research by Glanbia Nutritionals.2
As the population is growing older, healthy aging is becoming an increasing priority for this demographic. Consumers are more likely to look for ingredients that support bone health, muscle strength and mobility, as well as fight malnutrition. Awareness is also growing on the importance of the elderly looking after their mental health, particularly with more and more people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to research, 28% of consumers globally are interested in brain and cognitive health supplements.3 Food and beverage manufacturers are therefore realising the importance of supporting the elderly population with vitamins, minerals and proteins to help ensure a long and healthy life – both from a physical and mental perspective.
What premixes have you seen grow in popularity as people move towards a healthier lifestyle?
The general health category is continuing to grow, as consumers seek out formulations containing multivitamins that aid and improve their health and wellbeing. There is also an emerging trend for people looking for a more personalised approach. Over 30% of industry experts indicate that personalised products were the most important type of new products launch, according to a recent report.4