Nandini Roy Choudhury, Food and Beverage Client Partner at Future Market Insights (FMI), recently joined the Vitafoods Insights Europe virtual exhibition to provide the best consumer insights to brands looking to succeed in the beverage category. functionalities and the main trends having an impact on this sector. In the years to come.
She started by revealing that sports and energy drinks are the number one category of functional products in the world.
She revealed that the global sports nutrition market is a USD 30 billion opportunity, which is expected to reach USD 64 billion over the next decade and grow by nearly 30% in Europe alone.
80% of global consumers have tried sports drinks and 77% have tried energy drinks – figures far higher than those seen in other categories such as snack bars (46%), ready-to-drink protein drinks (32%) and sports gels (16%). .
Choudhury explains that beverages are great flexible and convenient vehicles for functional ingredients with a wide consumer audience, from children to older adults.
The category is evolving to encompass more women as well, which IMF says will lead to the evolution of an all-new portfolio of women’s health products and ingredients.
“However, creating completely new drinks or reformulating is not easy,” Choudhury adds, “There are significant technical, regulatory and nutritional hurdles that the industry must address.”
Looking at the consumer trends driving this category, Choudhury says the key drivers are functionality, better for you (mind and body), naturalness (fewer ingredients) and sustainability.
The most common and prominent trend is the “natural” trend, with 69% of consumers consuming sports nutrition products agreeing that the products contain too many artificial ingredients.
When consumers surveyed by the IMF referred to “natural” products, 44% cited chemicals as the most important food safety issue and 39% cited artificial flavors. With that in mind, 32% of launches over the past three years included a “natural” claim.
By looking at the ingredients consumers want to see in these products, FMI found that the top ingredients sought in fortified sports drinks are: real fruit (54%), vitamin D (51%), added calcium ( 42%) and added fiber (30%).
Cognitive health in the spotlight
The information also reveals the shift in consumer mindset from purely physical benefits to mental health.
When asked what kind of health benefits they expected from their beverages, supporting immune function came out on top (59%), followed closely by “clean energy” (58%), cognitive health (54%), digestive and metabolic health (51%). %), sports/recovery (50%), eye health (49%), relaxation and mood support (43%).
And when it comes to the functional dairy category, the top health issues consumers are trying to target are slightly different: cognitive health (43%), digestive health (62%), and 78% of consumers want products help them to ‘sleep better’.
Choudhury notes that selecting the right ingredient and the right combination of ingredients will be key to gaining consumer trust.
Trending ingredients identified by FMI are: acerola powder, green tea, black tea, yerba mate, guarana, acai, beetroot, hibiscus, chamomile, fiber, pre-, pro- and postbiotics.
Talking about the typical types of ingredients accepted as beneficial to cognitive health, Choudhury points to omega-3s and 6s (88%) and herbs (83%) as the most accepted additions. This is followed by gingko biloba (72%), caffeine (71%), iodine (69%), MCT oil (52%), nootropics (51%) and resveratrol (43%).
In summary, Choudhury asserts that innovation is the key to success in this field, adding that “Introducing new blends, hybrids and fortified beverages is something customers want.”
And, of course, a common trend in the field of functional foods and beverages is personalized nutrition, in which producers strive to personalize products according to the nutritional needs of the consumer.
“Personalization will be the next big thing” Choudury concludes, “The brand should focus on the type of consumer population it is targeting and the type of income group it is targeting. It will be important to have a personalized product rather than a general mass-oriented product. “
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