Trade shows: driving and inspiring the industry
Few industries are growing as fast as health ingredients. According to figures from Research and Markets, the functional food sector can expect to enjoy CAGR of 7.2% during the next decade, while the outlook for supplements and nutraceuticals is even better: Grand View Research predicts growth of 9.7% in the coming years. Working in close partnership with science, companies are developing innovative products at an incredible pace. But what is driving this growth?
The biggest engine is certainly the well informed, health- conscious consumer. These people are motivated by diverse reasons: an unbalanced diet – whether due to lack of time, bad habits or just laziness; completely new nutritional needs created by advancing age; the wish to prevent or fight lifestyle diseases, or the discovery of new scientific research into the effects of certain vitamins and micronutrients… these are just some of the manifold factors. Alongside consumers, the industry itself is a creative pool for innovation – it’s not just about reacting to consumer demand. The industry invests time and money in market analysis as well as research and development so that it is able to anticipate early what might potentially excite consumers in the short and medium term. For both consumers and R&D departments, today’s globally connected world makes it much easier to realise solutions that will be popular and drive trends.
Health-conscious consumers as a pool of ideas
Many people in the western world today are aware of the effects that a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet have on their bodies, and they have acquired a solid basic knowledge of which nutrients are beneficial to their health. They decide on their own diets, based on personal habits, intolerances and lifestyle factors, and they include functional products, nutraceuticals and supplements to bridge any gaps in their dietary intake and supply additional health benefits. For this important target group, social media channels, websites
and fitness apps provide an inexhaustible fund of nutritional recommendations – sometimes well founded, sometimes not, but often fast-changing. This has led to market fragmentation in the health food industry, with a wealth of niche products catering for specific special dietary requirements.
One example of how this fragmentation can change established categories is sports nutrition. As well as classic products for sports professionals and bodybuilders, thanks to the hobby sports boom, this sector now houses diverse sub- categories. The simplest way of creating products that fit into these is to give conventional products a sporty touch. However, the industry can really score with new dosage forms that are suitable for everyday use, tailor-made combinations of active ingredients instead of mono-preparations, and technologies that improve bioavailability.
Health through the power of nature is another consumer desire that is currently diversifying both nutraceuticals and functional ingredients. New plant power products convince with great functionality: Why rely on highly processed or artificially produced active ingredients when there are natural plant alternatives? Advances in R&D mean that the latest products offer excellent bioavailability and standardised quality – both of which used to be challenging when dealing with raw materials made by Mother Nature. Other plant innovations satisfy the consumer thirst for rediscovering the traditional treasures of the natural world. Substances that have been valued for centuries are experiencing a real revival – thanks to modern scientific studies that have proven their effectiveness.
After market fragmentation, personalised nutrition is the next step – and one of the most discussed topics in the industry. Enlightened consumers may have already subjectively known that some foods are good for them while others are
not, but this has now received scientific confirmation. Findings about how the intestinal microbiome – and to some extent our genetic predisposition – influences the way we metabolise nutrients are currently upsetting established nutritional “one size fits all” recommendations. Personalisation carried to the extreme would mean offering hundreds of individual products for all possible metabolic needs. Is that a realistic future for nutrition?
The latest findings from science and research, nutritional recommendations and industry trends – all presented on the silver platter of the World Wide Web… do we still need trade shows at all? Can’t we, as industry people, just update each other and exchange trend information and new solutions online, like consumers do – spontaneously, without the need for hotels or long journeys?
All of the exhibitors and all of the trade visitors who have helped to grow Hi Europe & Ni over the past 20 years know that the answer is clear: the industry still needs trade shows, and it definitely needs creative melting pots like Hi Europe & Ni! These events are also great turning points where the entire industry can pause and examine which of the countless consumer trends will realistically prevail and which may well just be mayflies with no longevity.
This year, once again, more than 500 exhibitors will reflect the biggest trends in nutraceuticals and functional ingredients for foods and beverages. As organisers, we add to this high-quality content with numerous free features such as the Supplement Spotlight at the Supplier Solutions Theatre; the Hi Conference, hosting key topics such as protein and natural functionality, and the Future of Nutrition Summit the day before Hi Europe & Ni, focusing on personalisation and sports nutrition.
I have no doubt that a number of fruitful partnerships and innovative products have been born over the years out of one-to-one discussions on exhibition stands. Several as then unknown startups have used Hi Europe & Ni as a springboard into the industry, and many movements that are key trends today were first sensed years ago in the exhibition air.
I am particularly looking forward to this tenth edition of Hi Europe & Ni. Let’s experience the innovative power of the industry together!
Brand Manager Health Ingredients Europe