Foreword to Autumn 2015 Issue

From personalised nutrition to sustainable proteins, sugar-replacers to sustainability… health and nutrition has a positive future

As 2015 draws to a close, issues surrounding food, health and nutrition have hardly been out of the headlines. Tackling obesity and diabetes remains a top priority for governments across the globe – while the impact of sugar on diet-related disease and dental health has prompted calls for a tax on sugar.

At the same time, nutrition experts argue that we need to take a whole-diet approach to improve nutrition and reduce the risk of disease – rather than focusing on a single nutrient, such as fat or sugar.

Alongside this global call to action to improve national diets, the health and wellbeing trend continues to
thrive – driven by a number of issues including the rising number of health-conscious consumers, an ageing population and an increased recognition of the importance of sustainable diets.

During the past few months, some of our expert contributors have reported on some of the key trends shaping the future nutrition landscape. Among these are the continued innovation towards sustainable forms of protein – from insects, meat replacers to fruit and vegetable based proteins; an increased interest in personalised nutrition; an exploration of the impact Vitamin E has on an ageing brain and management of Alzheimer Disease; and new R&D advancing satiety solutions.

Other experts have spotted market opportunities. Julie Meyer, founding partner of Eat Well Global, says too few ingredients’ suppliers are explaining why and how their products work directly to the consumer. She believes these companies are missing a competitive opportunity by not broadening their communication channels, and promoting the health credentials of their ingredients to the end-user via collaborative networks with clients and partners as well as via social media.

Jeff Hilton, partner and co-founder of BrandHive, a leading healthy lifestyle-branding agency in the US, points to the continued need to market effectively to the millennial generation. This single largest global demographic segment are out to change the world and they look at health differently – focusing more on living life in the moment and maintaining good health to run as fast and hard as possible. They are very comfortable mixing supplements, pharmaceutical drugs, functional drinks and over-the counter medicines to meet their individual daily health and performance needs, he says.

The millennials also featured in a recent twitter debate that we hosted on the subject of innovation in food and drink. Industry commentators agreed that this demographic presents signi cant opportunity for innovation in healthy food, drink and supplements – driven by their different relationship with brands, wider world-view and broader tastes.

Meanwhile, the concept of healthy ageing seems to be changing. US-based Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) research found that it is no longer limited to the physical health of older people. Instead, agelessness has become a cultural preoccupation, with all generations making tangible, measured changes to their everyday lives to ensure their health extends beyond their physical wellbeing to include financial, social, technological and emotional matters too.

On the subject of personalised nutrition, Professor Seven Schwartz, Director of The Center for Advanced Functional Foods Research and Entrepreneurship, at the Ohio State University, sees a bright future for functional foods as a preventative mechanism against disease. He predicts that these products will soon be stocked by major retailers, and eventually may even be prescribed by doctors to help prevent, or even treat, specific diseases.

It is the complexity of these issues and many more that makes Food Matters Live 2015, the UK’s first cross-sector event for those working in food, health and nutrition, so relevant.

Food Matters Live returns to London’s ExCeL on 17 – 19 November and will bring together colleagues at the forefront of food retail and supply, nutrition, research, manufacturing, healthcare, science and academia to tackle a raft of important issues shaping the future of health and wellbeing.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Briony Mansell-Lewis