23 Feb 2018 --- Consumers across EMEA want the food and beverage industry to focus on developing healthier, more nutritious food, according to new research commissioned by Ingredion. In fact, 60 percent of respondents said they feel this should be manufacturers’ top priority. However, consumers made it clear that the food industry must ensure that food quality and freshness is not sacrificed as a result.
Alongside continued general interest in health and wellbeing, dietary and lifestyle choices such as veganism, gluten-free and dairy-free are becoming increasingly mainstream. This means that manufacturers are under pressure to develop and deliver their products to market more quickly.
The survey found that 71 percent of consumers feel that the increase in health claims has had a negative impact on the quality of food and drink. They feel that the eating experience of products positioned as “healthy” is failing to live up to both label claims and their expectations. This indicates that while clean label has brought about a positive response regarding ingredient and label transparency, it may have been achieved at the expense of overall product quality.
“This research is a real wake-up call for our industry,” says Mona Schmitz-Hübsch, Marketing Manager at Ingredion EMEA. “While consumers are clear on where manufacturers should focus their future formulation efforts, such as making products healthier, at the same time the message coming through is that as an industry we need to do better when it comes to successfully combining nutrition with quality, taste and texture. Consumers are discerning, and they are challenging us to develop recipes and reformulations that deliver a satisfactory balance between functional and sensory performance.”
Nearly half of people questioned would pay more for a similar but healthier product, so this is a positive opportunity for food and beverage producers.
“We also know that dietary needs and choices that were once considered niche, such as veganism and lactose-free, are becoming more commonplace,” Schmitz-Hübsch says. “However, formulating these types of product can be more complex as it may involve the replacement or removal of ingredients which can impact taste, texture and appearance. With the right functional expertise and ingredient knowledge, manufacturers can balance the urgency to get healthy products to market without sacrificing the high-quality eating experience consumers want.”
To help manufacturers stay up-to-date with evolving ingredient functionality and application suitability, Ingredion has produced a number of healthy recipe prototypes that cater to both every day and special diets, and allow the creation of nutritionally-enhanced, vegan, gluten and lactose-free foods and beverages.
“Our aim with these recipe prototypes is to help manufacturers understand the growing functional capability of specialty ingredients. We’ve created three personalities to show how the recipes fit into today’s lifestyles and also highlighted the nutritional content and the claims that they support. Consumers are increasingly aware that products with ‘low fat’ and ‘gluten-free’ claims may not necessarily have better nutritional values. These recipe prototypes demonstrate that by using the right ingredients, such as those derived from pulses, manufacturers can create high-quality and nutritious alternatives,” she concludes.
The research was carried out by MMR on behalf of Ingredion in September 2017, with a total of 100 consumers from Germany, Iran, Kenya, Poland, Russia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and the UK taking part in the study.