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Five Ways to Win in Healthy Eating

8/22/2021
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Five Ways to Win in Healthy Eating

Preventative health has moved into the spotlight. In our post-pandemic world, consumers have turned towards a holistic wellness approach, actively engaging in physical as well as mental wellbeing. Lines between food, beverages and supplements are blurring, as functionality becomes a priority in areas like immune support and mood management. With mindful consumption on the rise, companies are exploring different strategies around the role of food as medicine.

  1. Use functional ingredients to meet consumer need states

Consumers increasingly seek natural solutions to support preventative health goals. The strong consumer thirst for immunity-boosting food and drinks has inspired product innovation. Within yoghurt and sour milk products for example, immune system health claims experienced an increase of 24% while probiotic claims grew 9% globally from 2019 to 2020, reaching a digital share of shelf of 1% and 13% respectively. With the continued presence of the pandemic, the interest in functional ingredients supporting the immune system is likely to persist.

Growing consumer interest in mental wellbeing has accelerated demand for food for body and mind. To cope with the increased levels of stress and anxiety resulting from the global pandemic, consumers are showing increased interest in food and drinks that help them to manage their mood, relieve stress and aid sleep – with these often perceived as more natural solutions compared with pills. Companies are exploring different ways to position their products in this space ranging from the use of adaptogens (eg ashwagandha) and nootropics (such as L-theanine) to CBD edibles that are linked to helping the body reduce stress and uplift mood.

  1. Innovate around trending ingredients and lifestyle choices

Lifestyle diets such as keto, paleo and low carb have seen a surge, spurring product innovation and resulting in a wave of new product launches. Analysing the claim landscape it becomes evident that product offers in this space remain niche, with no packaged food category having more than 2% of Stock-keeping Units (SKUs) with a keto, paleo or low-carb claim. But the strong growth in the penetration of keto claims, particularly in snacks and breakfast cereals, between 2019 and 2020 shows the growing interest of food companies. The investment of leading food players in ketogenic variants indicates a first step for keto to move from niche to mainstream. As part of its incubator program, PepsiCo invested in keto-friendly Hilo Life Chips, General Mills unveiled a new line of keto dairy snacks and bars called Ratio, and ice cream brand Halo Top introduced keto pops in early 2021. Also, retailers have started to create keto areas online and in store, as the examples of Planet Organic and a trial from Boots in the UK show.

imageh2j42.pngSource: Euromonitor International Product Claims and Positioning

  1. Invest in digital solutions that enable a personalised experience

Consumers increasingly use the internet and various digital applications to self-educate themselves about healthy nutrition and better ways of living. Apps and online services help consumers to manage their weight, food intolerances and preferences (more plant-based, less processed, etc). Growing demand is also seen for microbiome and DNA testing, opening opportunities for personalised nutrition. Technology develops fast and continuous innovation empowers consumers to drive their health goals. Digital transformation has become a necessity in a post-pandemic world. Companies need to embrace the boom in e-commerce and adopt digital solutions that help consumers to meet their personalised health and wellness goals.

Use of Health-Related Technology: 
Respondents extremely or very comfortable with use in 2021

imagemk5kp.pngSource: Euromonitor Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey, Fielded February 2021 n=21,459

  1. Embrace the natural movement to drive a clean label approach

While clean label might have taken a backseat when the pandemic hit, the natural movement is back on track and expected to drive product innovation in future. Consumers increasingly expect transparency and shorter ingredient lists and look for less processed and more natural products. The three most sought-after ingredient preferences around clean label include free from preservatives (38%), natural (34%) and limited or no artificial ingredients (27%) (Euromonitor Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey 2021, n=21,457). In view of the low penetration of natural claims compared with consumer interest, this is an area for companies to further tap into.

image3q6pv.pngSource: Euromonitor International Product Claims and Positioning and Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey, Fielded February 2020 n=21,739

  Innovate and reformulate towards healthier variants

The regulatory landscape continues to tighten, and companies are under increasing pressure to innovate towards healthier portfolios. Governments across the globe are seeking ways to tackle the growing obesity problem through tools that encourage consumers to opt for healthier food and beverage choices. The European Commission announced it would implement a mandatory front-of-pack nutrition label and the UK Government plans to restrict advertising and promotions on products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS regulation) by 2022. To avoid sales losses of their flagship brands, food and beverage companies are advised to re-engineer product formulae towards healthier variants.

Opportunities and challenges

Functionality and the role of nutritional wellbeing provide opportunities for growth as the consumer desire for mindful eating is on the rise. However there remain challenges that companies need to overcome to succeed. These include affordability, limited consumer knowledge about nutritional properties and associated health benefits, and most importantly the ability to meet consumer expectations on taste, texture and mouthfeel.

More detailed insights on how to win in the growing health segment are available in our Mindful Eating and Food as Medicine briefing.

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