The Nutraceutical Industry: Sustainably Driving the Future
The past decade has seen consumer- driven marketplace disruption push the industry in new directions. As the health and wellness trend continues to gather momentum, millions of consumers around the world have become increasingly aware of, and concerned about, what they put in and on their bodies. For example, although only 15 to 22 per cent of the global population is intolerant or allergic to certain ingredients, 39 per cent of shoppers regularly buy free-from goods and over half find free-from foods with health claims more appealing than those without.
Today’s society has reached a new consciousness; one that is being driven by consumers, manufacturers and retailers alike to create a global food economy, able to sustainably provide healthy foods with high nutritional value to our growing population.
It comes as no surprise that for the world to cope with this increasing demand for nutrient-rich ingredients, food processing practices must also adapt to changing environmental conditions or risk a decaying planet unable to provide sufficient supply. Underpinned by the unprecedented focus on sustainability in recent years, the market has had to react quickly to provide products that are both good for consumers and the planet.
With a recent report by Nielson finding that 73 per cent of consumers would change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the planet, this is a driver that is only going to grow in strength over the coming years.
Valued at US$ 79.71 billion in 2016, the European nutraceutical market is expected to experience an annual growth rate of 6.39 per cent between 2018 and 2023 overall and is the third largest market for nutraceuticals globally. Germany holds the largest market share, followed closely by the UK and France and it is consumers in these countries that are beginning to shape the nutraceutical industry as functional foods start to play a larger part in their lives.
Take the recent boom in plant-based diets, for example. Once considered an alternative dietary choice, the number of vegans in the UK alone quadrupled between 2014 and 2018, with more than half having made the change in the last 12 months and 38 per cent citing environmental reasons as their motivation . Boosted by frequent headlines and research supporting a vegan diet as a key way to reduce your environmental impact, the speed at which this change in behaviour is coming about presents both an opportunity and a challenge for product manufacturers. There is a gap in the market and a captive audience willing to purchase; the challenge is to get there first.
Equally as exciting is the disruption being caused by cannabidiol (CBD) as increasing numbers of countries legalise CBD-infused foods and beverages. Thanks to its environmental credentials and the increasing frequency at which information about its health and wellness benefits is becoming available, consumer demand is rising at a rapid pace. With big market players such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo sitting up and taking note, it’s certainly an ingredient to watch and one that will have huge implications for the future of the industry.
Arguably, the greatest influence across the nutraceuticals market right now is the surge of technology, which is having a huge impact across key areas including ingredients, R&D and product development, as well as sustainability efforts. As technology closes the gap between consumers and suppliers, we are seeing greater learnings at either end and achieving better insights than ever before. The result is a market that knows its audience well, and businesses are adapting their strategies to keep up with the latest demands.
Used more widely, modern technologies have the capability to improve agricultural and food supply chains and deliver healthier food products around the globe. With the potential to address issues such as malnutrition and food insecurity through innovations such as lab-grown meat, farmed insect protein and 3D food printing, the way food is prepared and consumed is being transformed.
Ultimately, this drive to develop healthier and more sustainable products has led to a renewed focus on using contract packers. In fact, the market is anticipated to grow at a rate of 9.54 per cent from 2017 to 2021 . This approach not only frees up manufacturers’ time to concentrate their efforts on producing high-quality foods, but allows more sustainable packaging options to be explored that might have not have been considered previously.
The move towards true circularity requires a monumental shift across the entire nutraceutical product lifecycle – from ingredient to shelf – and can only be made possible by collaboration across the entire supply chain. The impact of working towards the common goal of becoming more sustainable will unquestionably shape our industry for years to come. Already the Food and Drink Federation has revealed a 53 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions since 1990 and a 39 per cent decrease in water consumption since 2008, and efforts are only set to increase.
Our goal with this year’s Vitafoods Europe is to bring the industry together and spark conversations to better understand how we can create a sustainable future, as well as to inspire the nutraceutical community with trends, insights and solutions that support market-leading product development and business growth. We hope you’ll be able to join us in Geneva in May and look forward to as many of you as possible joining the debate.
Global Health and Nutrition Network, Europe, Informa Exhibitions