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On the occasion of the two-day conference of the European Commission on the Agri-food promotion policy review (12-13 July 2021), Freshfel Europe is calling on European authorities to build on the momentum of the policy developments emerging from the Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy, and the EU Beating Cancer Plan to promote fresh fruit and vegetables as part of the solution to climatic and health challenges. The aim is to shape an even stronger, more efficient, and better-funded policy to support European fresh fruit and vegetables to boost fresh fruit and vegetables consumption over the minimum WHO threshold of 400 gr/capita/day while also improving the competitiveness of EU fresh produce for exports to third-country markets.

The momentum to significantly stimulate production, trade and consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables is stronger than ever. COVID-19 pandemic has led consumers to include more fresh produce in their diets to boost their health and immune system. The United Nation’s celebration of 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is the perfect time for Freshfel Europe and the fruit and vegetables sector to speak up for the fresh produce sector and highlight the health and environmental benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables. The strong policy initiatives that started in 2018 through the Tartu Call for a Healthy Lifestyle and signed by three European Commissioners further contribute to the momentum. The Declaration has now been converted into more concrete policy initiatives where fruit and vegetables are considered as part of the solutions to current societal challenges, such as climate change and non-communicable diseases. This is well reflected in the ambitions and strategy of the Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy, the EU Beating Cancer Plan, the upcoming reform of the fruit and vegetable School Scheme, and, most importantly, the current discussion on the reform of the promotion policy with clear views of Freshfel Europe on the relevance of this policy for fresh produce.

Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard stressed: “More than ever before there is a momentum to change things significantly. Fruit and vegetables are only granted 3 to 4% of EU agricultural policy budget while contributing to 20% to the European agricultural value. In comparison, the meat sector received up to 53% of coupled agricultural support and milk and dairy 21%. It is time to spend agriculture budget more in line with societal expectations both from a health and environmental perspective” He added: “Fruit and vegetables are among the food baskets the products that best respond to these two ambitions. As the European Union is moving towards sustainable food production and consumption model, fruit and vegetables are an important component contributing to secure this ambition”.

For more than 20 years the sector has embarked in sustainable methods of production, using Integrated Production Method, precision farming and good agriculture practice, strict controls of plant protection usage, rigorous water management, minimizing packaging and many other initiatives to cope with environmental, social and economic sustainability. On the climate and environmental side, fruit and vegetables production are among the agriculture category with the lost CO2 emissions, good record in regard to energy and water usage, protection of biodiversity and restrictive usage of plant protection products and fertilizers. On the health side, the diversity of fruit and vegetables contributes to a healthy diet, full of fibres, vitamins, and nutrients which are important assets for an healthy lifestyle and prevention of many diseases based on a wealth of scientific studies.

It is to be reminded that figures demonstrate that fresh produce are primarily consumed locally and in season, as more than 60% of the fresh produce are consumed in the European Member States where they were grown, while trade -both intra EU and international guarantees the full diversity of the assortment and year-round supply. The efforts of growers to protect their crops and the good temperature control of the supply chain also contribute to minimize food lost and food waste.

The support for a strong promotion policy and the education of consumers towards a more plant-based diets was echoed by Freshfel Europe representative Simona Rubbi (CSO and Chair of the Civil Dialogue Group of Promotion and Quality of the European Commission) during the two days conference on the review of the promotion policy: “It is important for fruit and vegetable to rely on a strong and well-funded promotion policy. Today, the fresh produce sector receives around 30 Mio € of financial support every year for the promotion of EU fresh produce on the domestic market as well as on third-country markets. 15% of the EU promotion budget is therefore dedicated to fruit and vegetables”. She noted: “This is obviously insufficient if the ambitious objective of the EU is to radically change the diet and move towards a more sustainable and plant-based diet. This move should also keep in mind the benefit of a balance and diverse diet including other agriculture product. Securing half of the plate with fruit and vegetables and move over the minimum of 400 g per capita/day for all consumers is the objective. It will be a win-win solution, for the planet and for the health of its citizens alike and for the sector as this will imply to increase the fresh produce supply by close to 15 mio T”.

Freshfel Europe will continue to take the lead towards a more favourable policy-making for fresh produce. It is time to deliver and build on the current momentum by supporting the transition towards a sustainable system and shaping the new policies that best respond to the challenges of the sector. Finding ways to best position fruit and vegetables at the centre of a healthy and sustainable diet should be the main priorities of public and private stakeholders. It should be based on the strong partnership within the supply chain from production, to trade and down to retail and other food services segments and guarantee by the excellence, the quality, the freshness, the convenience and the diversity of all fresh fruit and vegetables made available to consumers on the European markets.

A new study suggests substituting 100 % fruit juice in the diet in place of beverages containing added sugars may lower health risks for cardiovascular-related disease, including type-2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Researchers performed a modeling analysis simulating the substitution of 100 % fruit juices for fruit and sugar-sweetened beverages in more than 34,000 Dutch participants ages 20 to 70. The findings, published in Public Health Nutrition, support previous research and hypotheses suggesting that substituting fruit juice for sugar-sweetened beverages would be associated with lower cardiometabolic risk with no change in risk when fruit juice was substituted for fruit.

When more than three-quarters of sugar-sweetened beverages in the diet were replaced with 100 % fruit juice, researchers found the risk for diabetes was lowered by 17 % when compared to the lowest substitution level of less than one-quarter. A similar substitution analysis found the risk for coronary heart disease was reduced by 12 %. Substituting 100 % fruit juice for whole fruit resulted in no change in risks. These calculations were made while considering other factors such as age, sex, educational level, physical activity, smoking, family history of diabetes, healthy diet index, alcohol, coffee, fruit intake, body mass index, and waist circumference.

“100 % fruit juice is frequently equated to sugar-sweetened beverages because of similar sugar content, but this study suggests their effects on diabetes and heart disease risk could be very different,” said Gail Rampersaud, Florida Department of Citrus registered dietitian nutritionist. “Substituting nutrient dense 100 % orange juice for sugar-sweetened beverages may be quite beneficial toward enhancing the intake of key nutrients, meeting daily fruit recommendations, reducing the intake of added sugars as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and reducing the risks for some health conditions.”

Other research supports findings that the consumption of 100 % orange juice or 100 % fruit juice is not related to risk of metabolic syndrome or diabetes and may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. Eight ounces of 100 % orange juice is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of potassium, folate, and thiamin. Oranges and 100 % orange juice are the primary dietary sources of the polyphenol, hesperidin, which may have beneficial effects on blood pressure in some individuals.

The global Probiotics Market value is projected to surpass USD $3.5 billion by 2026, according to a new research report by Global Market Insights, Inc. Changing consumer perception towards easily digestible food and beverages and the rising awareness of the potential benefits of probiotic-enhanced supplements may boost market share.

Increasing probiotics industry demand for high-quality food additives, owing to the changing perception towards overall wellness and rising disposable income, may boost market share. Probiotics-strain-enhanced additives are widely used to improve the nutritional profile of non-dairy, meat, and baked preparations, owing to their rich concentration of antioxidants and vital amino acids, which are likely to encourage market demand. Consumers are shifting towards alternate versions of their favorite snacks, which are fortified by probiotic strains, as they aid in healthy digestion, which may augment market share.

A rising prevalence of poor diets, an increasing elderly population with reduced nutritional uptake capability, and growing health awareness may promote the growth of the probiotics market for food supplement applications. Food supplements offer various advantages, such as offering multiple bacterial strains in a potent dose, correcting bacterial concentrations in the digestive tract, and alleviating abdominal discomfort which should boost market demand.  Moreover, they boost the immune system and prevent bacterial and fungal infections by resisting against airborne pathogens, which is likely to boost market share.

Some major findings of the probiotics market report include:

  • The demand for probiotics is increasing due to their benefits, such as their immune system strengthening nature and for the regulation of insulin and bile
  • Rising market demand for high-quality dietary additives in Europe due to a rising geriatric population and increasing awareness towards the potential benefits of probiotics strain-induced diets.
  • Changing perceptions towards animal rights and increasing demand for high-quality animal derivative products, such as eggs, meat, and milk in Asia-Pacific is expected to open new avenues for probiotics industry expansion.
  • Some of the major players operating in the probiotics market include Arla Foods, BioGaia AB, DuPont Danisco, Danone, I- Health, Nestle, and Nebraska Cultures
  • Companies are investing in R&D to develop hybrid varieties of strains to counter side effects and diversify product portfolio, which is likely to foster industry growth

Supportive government regulations in Europe and North America towards the use of probiotic strains in the food and beverage market and in animal feed may boost market share. Manufacturers are expanding product portfolios and diversifying segments by introducing probiotics enhanced alternatives, which may boost industry growth.

Browse key industry insights spread across 310 pages with 363 market data tables and 51 figures and charts from the report, “Probiotics Market Share By Ingredients (Lactobacilli, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus, Bacillus), By End-Use (Human, Animal), By Application (Food and Beverages {Dairy Products, Non-Dairy Products, Cereals, Baked Food, Fermented Meat Products, Dry Food}, Dietary Supplements {Food, Nutritional, Specialty Nutrients, Infant Formula}, Animal Feed), Industry Analysis Report, Regional Outlook, Application Potential, Price Trends, Competitive Market Share & Forecast, 2019 -2026,” in detail along, with the table of contents:

Protein is an essential macronutrient, but latest research from the world’s leading market intelligence agency Mintel reveals that a staggering 85 %* of Indians aren’t able to correctly identify the key sources of proteins.

Moreover, a significant number of Indian consumers aren’t fully aware of the actual benefits of the macronutrient. While over one-third (36 %) associate protein with being beneficial for bone health, just a quarter (24 %) are aware that proteins help in building muscles and a fifth (19 %) with weight loss.

Even among consumers who are aware of protein sources, Mintel research reveals that a third (32 %) strongly agree that it is hard to know if they are getting enough protein from their daily diet.

Natasha Kumar, Food & Drink Analyst, India, at Mintel, said: “Our research indicates that the majority of Indian consumers are unable to correctly identify the sources of proteins, while a significant number aren’t aware of the actual benefits of the macronutrient. As such, there is a clear need for companies and brands to help consumers differentiate between the various protein sources and their associated health benefits. Companies and brands should not only emphasise the quality of protein consumption but the quantity as well as how it relates to the recommended dietary daily allowance of protein.”

Move away from fad diets

Meanwhile, Mintel research also reveals there is an opportunity for companies and manufacturers to move away from fad diets, and instead, target the general consumer with food and drink products with added proteins. While a fifth (21 %) of Indian consumers say that they have tried a high-protein diet in the past, over two-thirds (68 %) either agree or strongly agree that high-protein diets are just a fad.

“Packaged food and drink products with added protein should be targeted at the general consumer and not just those who follow a high-protein diet. Companies and brands need to take advantage of the behavioural changes of increasingly health-conscious Indians who incorporate high or added protein packaged food and drink into their everyday diets. Given that most consumers question whether they are getting the recommended allowance of protein in their diets, one way to appeal to the masses would be to include these claims in products that Indians already consume in their daily lives,” Natasha continued.

Introducing high-protein food and drinks in mass categories

Finally, Mintel research highlights that over one in four (27 %) Indian consumers strongly agree that there aren’t enough high-protein packaged food and drink products. Indeed, research from Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) indicates that just 5 % of food and drink products launched in India between 2016-2018** featured high/added protein claims. Of this, 84 % were food products and the rest (16 %) were drinks. However, the growth of high/added protein claims is being driven by drinks, increasing from 8 % in 2017 to 25 % in 2018.

“Currently, high or added protein claims exist in very niche categories like cereal bars and meal replacement drinks, which tend to have smaller audiences in India. Companies, brands and manufacturers will stand to benefit from expanding these claims to more prevalent categories like milk, yoghurt, biscuits and snacks, all of which have a larger consumer base. Such added claims can also be essential in converting more consumers to packaged food from fresh food. For instance, added protein claims in yoghurt can be a way to lure consumers to opt for a packaged option over fresh homemade yoghurt,” concluded Natasha.

*3,000 urban Indians aged 18+
**January 2016-December 2018

Eating more protein, especially at breakfast, could be the key to achieving healthy weight loss, according to a new report released by CSIRO.

The report, Protein Balance: New concepts for protein in Weight Management, affirms the benefits of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet for weight control and reveals that the latest scientific evidence supports eating at least 25 grams of protein at each main meal to control hunger and enhance muscle metabolism.

The new Total Wellbeing Diet Protein Balance program focuses on shifting more protein consumption to breakfast.
“The average Australian eats much lower amounts of protein at breakfast, so increasing breakfast protein may help to control eating later in the day,” Senior Principal Research Scientist for CSIRO and co-author of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, Professor Manny Noakes, said.

“If you find it difficult to control what you eat, a redistribution of protein toward breakfast may be the answer to reducing your waistline without leaving you ravenously hungry and craving unhealthy foods.”

The CSIRO report showed that for most Australians, protein intake was skewed towards the evening meal, with only small amounts eaten at breakfast. On average women consumed 11 g of protein at breakfast, compared to the male average of 15 g.

The report also found that older Australians consumed the least amount of protein at breakfast but needed more protein to prevent muscle loss.

“The scientific evidence supports a higher protein diet, combined with regular exercise, for greater fat loss. Eating at least 25 g of protein at main meals can assist with hunger control,” Professor Noakes said.

According to the report, Australians get over one third of their dietary protein from low-quality sources such as processed foods, instead of whole protein sources including lean meats, fish, eggs, legumes and dairy.

Adopting a higher protein, moderate carbohydrate, low GI diet is a nutritious way to lose weight and has been scientifically validated for some time, , underpinning successful programs such as the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet.

Since launching in 2005, the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet has helped more than half a million Australians lose weight.

The growing appeal of leading healthy lifestyles has made its way to consumers in Southeast Asia and it seems the cornerstone of maintaining this is by following a healthy diet and exercise regime.

Indeed, new research from global market intelligence agency Mintel reveals that as many as three in four (75 %) metro consumers in Indonesia and two in three (66 %) metro consumers in Thailand say they aim to have a healthier diet in 2017*. Additionally, 58 % of metro Indonesians and 62 % of metro Thais say that they will definitely exercise more in 2017.

One of the key ways in which consumers in Southeast Asia are looking to adopt a healthy and balanced diet is by consuming food and drink that is high in protein. Indeed, there has been an increased interest in protein offering across the region. Mintel research shows that 64 % of metro consumers in Indonesia and Thailand respectively say that as part of their daily diets, they prefer to get their protein from foods that are naturally high in protein. Reflecting a growth in interest in protein consumption in Southeast Asian consumers’ daily diets, this figure (64 %) is a rise from 37 % of metro Indonesians and 41 % of metro Thais who said the same last year**.

Brands and companies have taken notice of this trend, however, innovation in Asia Pacific is falling behind; data from Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) found that in the two years leading to July 2017***, there was a 26 % increase in the number of global food and drink launches carrying a ‘high/added protein’ claim. Comparatively, Asia Pacific saw a 5 % growth in the number of food and drink launches with a ‘high/added protein’ claim in the same time period.

Jane Barnett, Head of Insights, South APAC, at Mintel said:

“Improving health and fitness is now a key focus of consumers across Southeast Asia, particularly through their diets and exercise. Consumers in the region show continuous interest in proteins and are incorporating more of them into their daily diets and eating regimes. Much of this growth in demand is attributable to consumer belief that protein aids in the pursuit or maintenance of a healthy physique, and provides them with energy and satiety. While brands in Asia Pacific have taken notice of this interest, there is still more room for innovation within the region.”

According to Mintel research, 47 % of metro Thai consumers think that high protein food or drink assists with building muscle, while 37 % of metro Indonesians think that high protein offerings help in managing weight. Furthermore, just over two in five consumers in urban Indonesia (42 %) and Thailand (41 %) feel that high protein food or drink provides them with long-lasting energy, while four in 10 (40 %) metro Thais think that these offerings help them to feel fuller for longer.

Meanwhile, the aspiration to be healthy among consumers has also made its way into the beauty and personal care industry with launches that target niche sporting activities, giving rise to Mintel’s 2017 Global Beauty and Personal Care Trend, ‘Active Beauty’.

Mintel research finds that 58 % of metro Thais and 63 % of metro Indonesians believe that regular exercise is important for a healthy lifestyle. As consumers recognise the importance of staying active, beauty and personal care brands are formulating products to help them in their quest for health and fitness. According to Mintel GNPD, the number of global skincare products launched featuring the word “sweat” in the product description grew by 30 % between 2015 and 2016, while the number of these launches in the colour cosmetics category grew by a significant 81 % in the same time frame.

“The perception of Active Beauty within Asia first started out, and is still very much, centred on suncare. However, as sports and fitness activities move indoors, this segment will move beyond sun protection. While still a niche market in Asia and globally, there is definite growth opportunities for active beauty brands and products in Southeast Asia, especially as consumers continue to recognise the benefits of staying active.” Jane continues.

Aside from achieving a healthy body, it seems that it is also the mind that consumers in Southeast Asia are keen to look after. Over three in five (61 %) of metro Thai consumers believe that maintaining a positive mental state is an important factor to leading a healthy lifestyle.

“While there have been a couple of products across Southeast Asia’s sports, energy, and lifestyle beverage space that talk about the ‘mind and body’, there is definitely still space for brands and companies to expand into this area. Globally, we see a growing rate of products that aim to provide more of a holistic approach, incorporating a beneficial nutritional profile, as well as either enhancing a consumer’s mood or providing the elements needed to keep the mind sharp and focused.” Jane concludes.

*Polled in June 2017
**Polled in June 2016
***August 2014 to July 2017