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Tate & Lyle PLC, a world leader in ingredient solutions for healthier food and beverages, is delighted to be supporting a new three-year research project by The University of Aberdeen’s Rowett Institute which aims to improve the understanding of the UK food system and help people experiencing food insecurity and living with obesity make healthier, more sustainable food choices.

The University of Aberdeen’s Rowett Institute has been awarded £1.6m funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to carry out the project, which will investigate how issues around poverty, food insecurity and obesity may affect shopping habits.

The data will be gathered from participants from across the UK who will be sharing their experience of living with food insecurity and obesity, and also working with a large UK retailer to study the shopping habits of around 1.6m consumers.

The three-year study will bring together a panel of consumers, policy makers, charities, food and drink producers, processors, and retailers, as well as expert academics to advise, co-develop and test strategies that can support future transformation within the UK food system. The results of the research will be made publicly available at the end of project.

As part of the project, and as the only food and drink ingredient solutions supplier on the panel, Tate & Lyle will provide industry insight on reformulation, as well as share their expertise on nutrition.

Dr Kavita Karnik, Global Head, Nutrition & Regulatory Affairs at Tate & Lyle, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer our guidance, expertise and know-how for this important piece of research.

“We are a science-led organisation which helps big and small brands all over the world make food and drink healthier and tastier. Driven by our purpose of ‘Transforming Lives through the Science of Food’, we believe this research is essential to better understand food systems in the UK and provide real-world strategies of how dietary inequalities can be addressed within the food retail sector in an environmentally friendly way.”

Professor Alexandra Johnstone, Rowett Institute, added: “With the cost-of-living crisis it is only going to get harder for people to make healthy food choices, particularly those who are living with obesity and food insecurity. This is a vital piece of research, and we are very much looking forward to working with this excellent team on this extremely important topic.”

Process engineering group GEA and Israeli foodtech start-up Better Juice have joined forces to help beverage manufacturers produce healthier, lower-sugar fruit juice.

Better Juice has developed a groundbreaking solution that naturally reduces the amount of sugar in fresh juice by up to 80 percent, without affecting its nutritional value or taste. GEA is now engineering the process technology the start-up needs, setting this innovative solution on course for industrial production.

Demand for healthier juice

GEA frequently works with innovations partners such as start-ups in order to react more quickly to market trends and explore alternative solutions. Reducing the amount of sugar in our diets is one of the dominant themes in the food industry today, since people who consume excess sugar are more likely to be overweight, obese, or suffer from conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for orange juice as a vitamin-rich, immune-boosting drink*

Please read the full article in the February issue of FRUIT PROCESSING digital.

*Source: The Wall Street Journal (2020): “Grocery-Store Rush Spurs Big Gains in Sleepy Orange-Juice Futures”

Healthy ingredients and label transparency are more important to consumers than ever before following the COVID-19 pandemic, concludes a new global survey commissioned by the market research company FMCG Gurus on behalf of BENEO1.

The results show that across the globe consumers are becoming more conscious about their well-being – particularly immunity – as they question their vulnerability to disease and illness. They are also concerned about the environment and whether the virus’ impact has been intensified because of increased levels of environmental damage. As a result of these attitudinal shifts, consumers are looking to purchase food and drink products that increasingly promote well-being and sustain their energy in challenging times, whilst minimising impact on the environment.

Good for you and the environment

Environmental concerns have been heightened as a result of COVID-19. This is in part due to some consumers questioning whether issues such as air pollution have increased respiratory issues, making people more vulnerable to the disease. This concern is being translated into altered buying patterns, with 60 % of consumers now being more attentive to the impact that their food and drink has on the environment.

Increased focus on food and drink products that provide health benefits

Furthermore, the widespread effect of COVID-19 has also resulted in 64 % of consumers saying that they are now more conscious about their immune health. Even consumers who previously deemed themselves to have a good immune system are now questioning their vulnerability to disease and illness. This is having a direct impact on purchasing behaviour, with two-thirds (64 %) of consumers more interested in ingredients, or food and drink products, that provide protective or preventative health benefits. This trend is likely to continue being prevalent in the market for the foreseeable future.

Consumers want natural, sustained energy boosts

In these challenging times, consumers are also looking for ways to fight feelings of fatigue more naturally. In line with this, 34 % of consumers say that they are now more likely to seek out food and drink products that boost energy in a sustained and balanced way. Also, not surprisingly, consumers are looking to improve their mental well-being, with more than half (55 %) saying they are likely to opt for food and drink to boost their mood. However, formulation is key, as consumers look to avoid ingredients deemed detrimental to their long-term health in pursuit of a short-term energy boost. One opportunity arising from this is the appeal of slow-release, low-glycaemic carbohydrates such as Palatinose™ (isomaltulose), with 45 % of consumers believing such carbohydrates are better for their health.

Michael Hughes, Director of Insights at FMCG Gurus, comments: “The results of our latest consumer survey clearly show that beneficial ingredients and label transparency are now more important than ever before to consumers across the globe, as a result of the pandemic. People are exploring topics such as inner defence, staying fit and healthy, blood glucose control, as well as sustained energy and wanting to buy products with proven health benefits. BENEO is well equipped to help manufacturers tap into these key growth areas. The company’s prebiotic chicory root fibres and slow-release carbohydrate offer a range of scientifically proven health benefits that help support long-term health and can be communicated on pack.”

Myriam Snaet, Head of Market Intelligence and Consumer Insights at BENEO, explains: “As concern for the environment continues to gather pace, it is important that we all play our part in promoting sustainable business practices. At BENEO, we actively support sustainable farming, to encourage biodiversity and reduce water pollution and soil erosion. We valorize 100% of our raw material to minimise waste and have reduced our specific energy consumption by 50% over the past 30 years. Looking to the future, we aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, thanks to our recent investments into upgrading and expanding our facilities.”

1Content based on FMCG Guru’s COVID-19 survey, July 2020. Eighteen countries surveyed in July 2020 [Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, UK, USA, Vietnam] and a Country Profile survey conducted across nineteen countries in January 2020.

  • 51 % of Canadians want healthy snacks packaged to eat on the go. (Read more)
  • 3 in 10 consumers are interested in snacks made with plant-based protein. (Read more)
  • 41 % of consumers trust health claims on food and beverage packaging. (Read more)

It seems the traditional three meals a day are facing an evolution in Canada, as new research from Mintel reveals that nearly half (46 %) of better-for-you (BFY) snackers* feel that it is healthier to snack throughout the day than to eat three large meals. In need of constant fuel, many Canadians have snacks at the ready with two-thirds (65 %) of BFY snackers believing it’s important to always keep healthy snacks on hand.

Keeping up with their interest in snacking throughout the day, more than half (51 %) of Canadians agree that they’d like to see more healthy snacks packaged for eating on the go. What’s more, it seems there’s potential for anything to be considered a snack among younger consumers, as 45 % of Canadians aged 18-24 are interested in snack-sized portions of regular foods as compared to 31 % overall.

“Snackers today are looking for ways to satisfy cravings that fit in easily with an increasingly on-the-go lifestyle. The good news is food manufacturers and foodservice providers need not start from scratch. As many consumers have adopted the notion that anything can be a snack, companies can appeal to those looking for better-for-you snacks by rethinking packaging to make items more portable rather than reinventing the wheel. This is especially crucial for foodservice vendors in particular as consumers aged 18-24 are the most likely to dine out, yet also feel the financial impact of it. This highlights an opportunity to offer smaller serving sizes of their dishes at lower price points to appeal to this group,” said Carol Wong-Li, Associate Director, Lifestyles and Leisure Reports, at Mintel.

Younger consumers prioritize protein

As consumers look to make better choices for themselves, it seems fresh and less processed snacks are coming out on top as fresh fruit and vegetables (84 %) are the nation’s top better-for-you snack of choice, followed by cheese (79 %), nuts (69 %) and popcorn (60 %). In fact, Mintel research shows the snack innovation that consumers are most likely to say they would like to see more of is products made from fresh ingredients (55 %).

While fresh snacks are winning out, younger consumers are placing power in protein to keep them full. Three in 10 (30 %) consumers say they eat meat snacks, with younger snackers aged 18-34 the most likely age group to agree (41 %). Although just 16 % of consumers say they are interested in snack bars made with meat, one third (32 %) of men aged 18-34 are keen to see more of this type of offering.

Following the growing flexitarian movement, it seems that plant-based has potential when it comes to better-for-you snacking as three in 10 (29 %) consumers say they are interested in snacks made with plant-based protein, rising to four in 10 (39 %) among women aged 18-34.

“Protein is a key area of interest for younger Canadians when it comes to innovations in healthy snacks, but men and women differ when it comes to the actual source of protein they prefer. While young women show interest in plant-based proteins, men are more likely to turn to meat. This may stem, in part, to the different approaches taken to snacking. Younger women tend to snack because they are too busy to eat meals, whereas young men usually do so as a way to refuel after exercise. Marketers looking to promote plant-based proteins will see success by focusing on how these ingredients work to keep consumers fuller longer, while brands promoting meat can focus on how the quality of the meat protein contributes to muscle building, recovery and/or development,” said Wong-Li.

Healthfulness of BFY snacks comes into question

While Canadians are keen to enjoy healthy snacks, there are significant concerns. Nearly three-quarters (73 %) of BFY snackers believe that many snacks marketed as healthy are not actually healthy, with just 41 % saying they trust the health claims on food and beverage packaging. And for many, there’s confusion when it comes to making a healthy snack choice, as half (49 %) say it is hard to tell if a snack is healthy.

“Many consumers today have difficulty determining the healthfulness of snacks and hold a general distrust of claims on food and beverage packaging. This may be drawing them toward choosing fresh and less processed snacks, rather than processed and/or packaged ones. Marketers can boost perceptions of healthfulness of their products by highlighting whole and/or fresh ingredients the products include and featuring clear packaging to both showcase the ingredients and offer transparency,” concluded Wong-Li.

*Base: 1,959 internet users aged 18+ who have eaten better-for-you snacks in the past 3 months leading to July 2018.