Foreword to IFT 2019 Issue

The ever-blurring lines between standard foods and supplements

For several decades now, the line between food and dietary supplements, nutrition and medicine has become increasingly blurred. Consumers today know the importance of their daily diet, and its impact on health and wellbeing. Yet for many, a balanced diet is no longer enough. That’s why there is an increasing demand for additional nutritional support, be it vitamin- and protein-enriched products, smoothies, superfoods, capsules or shots. Nutraceuticals are at the heart of this fusion of categories.

If we look at the figures, Mordor Intelligence predicts a CAGR of 7.5% over the coming five years for the global market for nutraceuticals, segmented into functional food, functional beverages and dietary supplements. The strongest growth can be seen in the emerging markets with their increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Looking at individual categories, fortified and functional beverages are the fastest-growing product group.

So let’s consider the consumer background to these market developments: Self-optimization plays an important role, in my opinion. Western societies – and currently threshold countries too – are performing well economically, but the downside of abundance is an increase in NCDs. However, thanks to improved education and knowledge, we have turned a corner. That means many of us are no longer reactive when it comes to nutrition, fitness and health, but are actively examining what we can do for our personal wellbeing. The comprehensive range of functional foods, nutraceuticals and specialty nutrition now available in supermarkets is just one side of the story. Innovative tracking technologies, for example, for recording daily exercise, biomarkers, calorie and vitamin intake play a vital role too, and complement consumer desire for self-optimization.

If we talk about the central growth topics, the subject of intestinal health has been gaining in importance for a few years now. More and more studies on the intestinal microbiome have been published, proving that a well-balanced bacterial community in the intestines is crucial for overall wellbeing. Interestingly, current data shows that the extremely diverse microbiomes of immigrants from native regions lost their diversity after only a short time in the USA. It’s hard to escape the effects of the western lifestyle, so instead we must proactively repopulate our microflora. That’s why today, the gut health range includes not only probiotic dairy products, but also a variety of probiotic and prebiotic foods, fermented drinks, special cereal products and fibre-enriched sweets.

Healthy ageing and beauty from within are two related trends that currently prevail: being healthy, vital and attractive up to an advanced age is surely something we all hope for. But for several years now we’ve known that alongside exercise and a healthy diet, we can also take advantage of an ever-growing range of dietary supplements and functional foods. Tailor-made and adapted to the everyday needs of best agers, these range from protein-enriched shots for a healthy muscular-skeletal system, to tea extracts with phytochemicals for cell protection, and gummies enriched with vitamins and micronutrients – ideal alternatives for those who have difficulty with tablets and capsules.

Of utmost importance though is convenience … and sustainability. Consumers today often have high expectations for both. Yet a healthy diet does not automatically mean cooking for yourself using fresh ingredients. Instead, the health-conscious are increasingly turning to products that are nutritionally valuable and can also be consumed quickly and easily. However, there is a demand for these products to have been produced as naturally and ethically as possible. If a product is produced without artificial additives or made from regional raw materials or uses sustainable packaging, that, combined with brand trust and transparency, can be a decisive purchasing incentive.

The merging of standard foods and supplements is also reflected in face-to-face events, which increasingly connect and complement each other in order to of fer new synergies. After IFT in June the newly created Fi North America will join forces with Supply Side West in October to provide health and nutrition professionals from the dietary supplement, food, beverage, personal care and sports nutrition industries with an immense range of solutions and ideas. At Fi Europe, meanwhile, the boundary between ‘normal’ and functional foods is becoming increasingly blurred: from 2020, Fi Europe and Hi Europe will join to form the most comprehensive trade show for conventional and functional food ingredients.

New technologies and solutions from the industry on the one hand, and an informed and well-connected consumer with high expectations on the other, will continue to stimulate and fuel both the market and new product development. I am sure that the rapid pace at which new trends conquer the market will continue to increase, and that innovation cycles will become ever-shorter. Let’s keep moving forward!

Julien Bonvallet, Brand Director
Food ingredients, Informa Markets

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