2019 healthy NPD trends: Digestive health and personalization among Kerry Health and Nutrition Institute predictions

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10 Dec 2018 --- The Kerry Health and Nutrition Institute (KHNI) has highlighted its perspective on the top ten forthcoming nutrition trends that we can expect to see in 2019, including authenticity & provenance, digestive wellness and sugar targets. The trends symbolize awareness around products, new ingredients which are backed by emerging science and public health recommendations which are driving the reduction in sugar content of foods across all categories, according to KHNI.

“Nutrition, as the link between diet and health is a hot topic, both at industry and consumer level driving awareness across all psychographics and adult life-stages,” Emma Cahill, Strategic Marketing Manager at KHNI tells NutritionInsight. “Over 85 percent of consumers prefer to consume health-enhancing ingredients through food. Fundamentally, consumers care about nutrition because of the control and impact they can have on their own health and improving their quality of life,” she adds.

“From what we’re seeing, ‘Authenticity and Provenance’ will be the top trend for 2019 and beyond, closely followed by ‘Digestive Wellness,’” notes Cahill. 

Nutrition for health and well-being is a way of life and the best thing consumers can do to benefit their health. Regulations are also being put in place to put the onus on the industry to better formulate and inform customers about what’s in their food. Regulation and taxation may not be the answer to health issues but hope to help consumers to make clearer, more informed choices, she says. 

1. Authenticity & provenance: This trend embodies how consumers need to know more than ever about products and ingredients. Romanticizing ingredients with historical uses, such as stinging nettles being used to treat joint pain centuries ago, provides the extra draw to a product and often provide a health halo, says KHNI. Artisanal products, ingredients with a sustainability story, or just simplicity in an ingredient label, all fall within this trend. Since the main driver of this trend is consumer trust, it’s critical to ensure that products with the health halo that consumers associate with premium products are actually healthy.

Authenticity and provenance refers to the consumer desire to reconnect with their food. With growing access to information of varying validity, consumers have never been as confused and it impacts their trust of the industry. The definition of a clean label and healthy food keeps evolving as a result, Cahill explains. 

“Nutrition science does not move as fast as consumer sentiment, so it is essential that the industry matches healthy halo products with validated health benefits and clear, honest labels,” she adds. 

2. Digestive wellness: Digestive wellness is propelled by new ingredients and backed by emerging science. The desire for consumers to feel benefits from the food they eat has created a strong consumer demand for this category. Foods that can help reduce feelings of gas, bloating or more severe gastrointestinal symptoms are the focus in this trend. This could include “free-from” foods for consumers looking to avoid gluten, lactose, dairy, or FODMAPs. It also includes added-benefit ingredients like prebiotic fibers, probiotics and fermented foods.

Click to Enlarge“Consumers are seeking better digestive wellness as part of their general wellbeing,” Cahill continues. “This has grown as links between the gut-brain axis gain more scientific evidence and digestive health as a definition goes beyond embarrassing issues and discomfort. What is great to see is how much more acceptable it has become to talk about digestive issues at a consumer level.

“These key trends are important for 2019 and beyond as they reflect a consumer’s desire to make responsible, informed choices about their diet and well-being. These core drivers go beyond the hype,” she states.

3. Sugar: Sugar has been a main nutrition target in foods & beverages for years, and this trend will only continue. Public health recommendations and tax legislation are driving the reduction in sugar content of foods across all categories. The answer to the question “what is the best solution?” is continually being explored. For now, natural sources of sweetness like honey, or stevia for alternative sweeteners, seem to be getting a free pass with consumers, notes KHNI.

4. Beverages redefined: As one of the main victims of the crusade against sugar, nutrition innovation for beverages is a way to drive the category forward. Drinks fit a convenient niche that can undergo customization with nutritious ingredients in ways that many foods can’t be. Functional beverages like kombucha, ready to drink caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea, and protein drinks are some areas of innovation. The ability to incorporate protein, fiber, whole grains, and fruit and vegetable servings will link this trend with the snackification trend.

5. Personalization and fragmentation: The personalized nutrition movement is one mostly driven by advancements in technology, in many cases just waiting for science to catch up, according to KHNI. Technologies ranging from wearable fitness trackers to DNA and microbiome testing will drive demand for nutrition tailored for a specific individual. It is the concept of bringing what dieticians have been doing for years to the mainstream. The future of this trend may hinge on advancements in meal kit and delivery systems and 3D printing.

6. Plant-basedClick to Enlarge: Eating more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts have long been the hardest part of dietary recommendations for many of us to adhere to, reports KHNI. The presence of this trend on the list signifies that food technology innovations have found ways to help plants make it into our diet in tasty, convenient ways. Products with plant protein and vegetable-based pasta are just a couple of examples of this trend’s power for stealth health.

7. Good carbs, bad carbs: Carbohydrates have been the target of many diets in the past few decades as a strategy to reduce overall calorie intake. Many of these diets focus on shifting the intake of “bad carbs,” often referring to sugar or starches with minimal other nutritional value, to “good carbs” such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Fiber is often a key differentiator between a “good carb” and a “bad carb.” This trend ties in strongly with plant-based, such as the example of using vegetables as a base for pasta instead of refined starch.

8. Protein: With the pendulum swinging from “anti-fat” in the 70s and 80s to “anti-sugar” in recent years, consumers look to replace these nutrients with something perceived to be more positive. Protein continues to serve this need due to its association with improving lean body mass, reducing hunger between meals and the “sportification” trend. People are looking for more protein in foods and beverages across categories, at increasing amounts. The key is to make sure the protein is from recognizable sources, whether it is animal or plant-based. Animal jerky, cheese and nuts are finding their way into more product formats because they are familiar foods that people trust.

9. Fat: “Fat is back” is a common headline to see in nutrition news, for a few different reasons. One reason is that taste is always the priority in foods. With sugar reduction being such a focus, fat is a way to add back flavor. In addition, research is expanding the list of which fats are seen as healthy. Dairy fats are being added to the list of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and polyunsaturated fats like fish oil. In other words, this trend is catching up with the dietary recommendation that the type of fat is more important than the amount. It is key to remember that too much fat is still not a healthy thing – products should be formulated with the right amount of fat to keep calorie amounts in a healthy range, and the right fats should be used to promote health.

10. Snackification: The fragmentation of mealtimes due to busy lifestyles has led to much more of our daily eating occasions being snacks instead of sit-down meals. This means mealtime nutrition needs to be provided in convenient, snackable formats. The most significant opportunities here are to deliver on trends like sugar, protein, and plant-based in convenient and nutritious ways. Innovations that help deliver food groups like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in a natural, recognizable way are key for the future.

Top ten NPD trends
Last month, Innova Market Insights presented their Top Ten Trends for 2019, with “The Adventurous Consumer” tipped as the top trend for the coming year.

Trend number three has been coined as “Alternatives to All,” by the market researcher. As more consumers pay attention to health and sustainability, replacement foods and ingredients are on the rise. Health remains the number one reason to buy food alternatives, with one in two US consumers reporting that health, is a reason for buying alternatives to bread, meat or dairy. The search for alternative proteins has resulted in rising use of black beans, lentils, peas, rice, nuts and seeds, chickpea and even insects as protein ingredients for foods. 

Trend number five “Snacking: The Definitive Occasion” highlights the fact that snacking is a part of daily life and always has been. Snacking is no longer the optional extra, but the definitive occasion. It is a central focus of innovation across all food and beverage categories, with 10 percent average annual growth of global food and beverage launches tracked with a snacking claim over the past five years (CAGR, 2013-2017).

By Elizabeth Green

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