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Immunity a Key Nutritional Factor for Consumers in Wake of Coronavirus Worries

Seemingly overnight, immunity moved to the top of the list of consumers’ health concerns in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Surging interest in products that may provide immunity support continues to reshape health and wellness industries. Here we explore opportunities in functional food and see if consumers’ prioritization of immune system health may become part of the new normal.

Consumer Attitudes Toward Immunity Before and After COVID-19 Outbreak

Prior to COVID-19, interest in immune health was already increasing, according to FMCG Gurus.1 For example, 61% of consumers in North America reported making changes to their diet and lifestyle in 2019 to improve their immunity. Of these consumers, 58% were not suffering from any problems with their immune system but were nonetheless concerned about their immune systems or wanted to take a proactive approach toward health.

After COVID-19 struck, sales of immunity supplements and general health supplements (such as multivitamins) surged as consumers sought preventive measures that could reduce their disease risk. In July 2020, 10% of surveyed US consumers indicated they had increased their supplement consumption.2 However, as the COVID-19 situation progressed, a growing interest emerged in supplements that offer ancillary support, such as those that support restful sleep or mental health.

Immunity Support Shifts from Short- to Long-Term Strategy for Consumers

The prolonged pandemic has led many consumers to consider the need for a more comprehensive approach to maintaining their health and immunity that can work over the long term. For many, the COVID-19 situation served as a wake-up call, motivating them to evaluate their lifestyles and priorities. Rather than relying on a pill as a quick fix, an increasing number of consumers are asking themselves how they might improve their diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management to best take care of themselves. 

man doing yoga

From YouTube channels to blogs to podcasts, the buzz around self-care is creating a supportive environment for reflection and change, inspiring people to actively create their own paths to healthy living. Some have tried a sleep tracking app for the first time, while others have started participating in remote meditation groups or taken up jogging in their neighborhood. Some have focused on diet, such as making superfood smoothies or buying more probiotic-rich foods. Many people are adopting multiple strategies for supporting their health and immunity.

Opportunities in Functional Food

This shift toward healthier living, combined with the very real possibility of pill fatigue, is creating an important opportunity in functional foods that can address the needs of the day. This includes ready-to-eat and ready-to-drink functional products that can make healthy living easy for consumers—such as a bar fortified with a superfood blend or a tea with added vitamins, minerals, and botanicals associated with immune support.

According to Mintel’s research, the ingredients most widely recognized by consumers for boosting the immune system are vitamin C, vitamin A, and zinc.3 Botanicals are also increasingly being used in new products with immunity claims. Examples of botanicals under research for immune system benefits include ginger, camu camu, elderberry, and certain mushrooms like reishi and chaga. 
 

powder in bowl

Functional Products for Total Wellness—Body and Mind

Companies can also expand to functional products that help consumers manage anxiety or depression during this stressful time or keep weight gain at bay while they’re stuck at home. Multiple functional ingredients can be combined into one custom premix to create a product with multiple health benefits. Adding a custom premix is an easy way to transform an existing product into a functional product that meets the needs of the day.

The Right Functional Benefits for Your Consumers

Offering products that can make it easier for consumers to support the lifestyle changes they’re making can help food companies succeed in today’s environment. Whether it’s functional food that may support immune health or products that deliver on total mental and physical wellness, Glanbia Nutritionals has a variety of bioactive and premix solutions to help you meet your customer’s needs. Collaborate with us!
 

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References

1. FMCG Gurus. (2020). Insights & Opportunities – Immunity – Global 2020.
2. FMCG Gurus. (2020). COVID-19 Survey – US. 
3. Mintel. (2019). Defend Against Disease with Immunity-Boosting Products.

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