Foreword to April-May 2021 Issue

The year no one could have predicted – reflecting on changes in the nutraceutical industry amidst the global pandemic

At the time of writing this, we have passed the one-year milestone since COVID-19 lockdowns began in the UK, so it seemed a fitting time to reflect on the strange and unprecedented previous 12 months.

Business operations and supply chains in particular have experienced extreme challenges over the last year – from protecting workforces and material supplies, and for some the entire modus operandi was flipped on its head. Embracing change and adapting has been key to business resilience, and the nutraceuticals industry has always been highly innovative and exceptional at responding positively to change. So, it’s not a surprise to learn that this year the sector has continued to grow, if not thrive. Consumer awareness around the benefits of dietary supplementation is at an all-time high, with heightened awareness globally around the importance of health. And with a forecasted CAGR of over 20% for 2020-2024, the future looks bright for nutraceuticals. With this in mind, we look back at the challenges and changes to some of the industry’s key sectors in light of COVID-19, and the potential lasting impact for the future.

First and foremost, it is impossible to ignore the meteoric rise in the demand for immune health supplements. The increase in consumer awareness in this area was noticeable immediately and was unsurprising, as consumers looked for ways to proactively protect themselves from the virus – several reports highlighted the huge uplift in sales for products with immune health claims from the outset of the pandemic. Some of the most popular products contain the likes of vitamins C, D, and K – due to their reported potential links to relieving COVID-19 infection or symptoms. However, the pandemic has placed a renewed spotlight on the microbiome too, with the immune health and wider benefits for consumers from gut health products also a major focus over the last year. An increased awareness from consumers on their health and wellness is certainly great news, now we need to harness that energy and interest by continuing to invest in robust science to deliver effective products that provide real consumer benefits to this newly receptive audience.

Another area that has understandably received increased interest over the past year is mental and cognitive health. The increase in stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic globally, due to changes or renewed pressures on our work, home, and social lives, as well as health of course, has led to mental wellbeing and cognitive performance being more important than ever. From supplements to foods and beverages and beyond, blends of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and new natural nootropic ingredients to help boost mental health or performance are flourishing, and this can only be a good thing for wellbeing, both now and in the future.

With lockdowns forcing facilities like gyms to close, sports nutrition has also seen significant changes in light of the pandemic. As consumers searched for ways to stay fit at home, opportunities opened up for brands to adapt to the emerging home-based active consumer. From home-schooling to working from home and running a household, regular schedules were significantly affected too, meaning that for some sport nutrition consumers convenient nutritional or nutraceutical solutions were even more desirable.

The healthy ageing category also continues to evolve in the face of the pandemic, with adults of all ages looking for products to support joint, skin, and overall health. Mobility remains a key focus for healthy ageing, and continues to broaden its demographic appeal outside of just Boomers. Unique ingredient combinations in the joint health space are gaining ground too,
creating accessible and convenient products that address mobility as a whole. And after a year of reduced mobility due to lockdowns, these products will be key to getting many of us back on our feet.

The pandemic has not only had a huge effect on our personal and business lives, but it has also changed the way we do business. Without being able to travel and meet one another face-to-face, virtual events have provided a new platform for connections, innovation, and growth. Creating and maintaining a space to facilitate networking, knowledge sharing, and community-building is key to our industry. At the upcoming Vitafoods Insights Virtual Expo on 10-13 May, our aim is to do just that – to inspire the nutraceuticals industry by providing the latest insights and consumer trends, market-leading product developments, as well as invaluable networking. After a challenging year for all we hope to emerge a better connected and even stronger industry. We hope you can join us in May.

Chris Lee, Managing Director,
Health & Nutrition Network, Europe, at Informa Markets

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