The long-established trend towards proactively managing our health and well-being has been brought into sharper focus by COVID-19. Research by Innova Market Insights reveals a new wave of opportunity for functional nutrition product launches for 2021 and beyond.
Even prior to COVID-19, consumers were taking a more holistic approach to health, focusing on positive nutrition to boost the body’s resilience and improve physical, mental and emotional well-being. The impact of the pandemic brought health needs even more to the fore, with the growing desire to maintain physical and mental fitness developing alongside the more immediate focus on personal health security and hygiene. This included choosing functional food and beverages, as well as maintaining or increasing exercise, protecting the body from health threats and utilizing more self-care products at home as access to shops and services was restricted.
Consumers across the globe are placing increased emphasis on positive nutrition rather than the more traditional reductionist methods of diet control. An average 71 % of respondents in Innova’s 2020 Health & Nutrition Survey agreed that it was important or very important to choose food and drink products that positively boost nutrition or benefit how the body functions.
Consumers from different generations and different parts of the world are invested in their own personalized nutrition, with varying needs, motivations and behavior driving interest in specific functional benefits. The under 35s tend to focus more on physical appearance and performance, for example, while the older groups, particularly the Boomers (56+ years), are more interested in targeted or age-specific health benefits.
According to Innova Market Insights, future directions for NPD will be influenced by consumers continuing to seek foods and beverages that actively improve physical and mental health, with growing opportunities for products carrying multiple health claims, such as gut health, immunity and mood.
The additional benefits of a healthy gut, beyond the more established areas of digestion and immunity, continue to be explored. For example, there is rising evidence about the gut-skin axis and how reducing sugary and fatty diets can help tackle skin and joint inflammation. Similarly, there is a growing understanding of how good bacteria in the gut can prompt improvements in mental health.
The need to boost the body’s resilience has driven a greater focus on the emotional aspects of mental health, enabling improvements in mood and happiness by reducing stress and fatigue, as well as optimizing relaxation and sleep patterns. Consumers have become more interested in the way that food and beverages can contribute to their mood and mental state. This has seen rising use of mood-related claims for new products, particularly those highlighting brain function, focus and concentration, often linked to the inclusion of adaptogens such as CBD.