This year’s World Health Day, taking place on the 7th April 2022, is more important than ever. Its theme, “Our Planet, Our Health”, broadens the usual notions of health to encompass the environment — putting a spotlight on the innate relationship between the Earth’s wellbeing and our own.
When it comes to our own welfare, having proper nutrition is key to addressing the myriad of health challenges facing the region. Within Europe, the population struggles with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, with 1 in 10 adults currently living with the condition[i]. A rapidly ageing population is another long-standing issue that further contributes to the need for promoting healthy living, particularly as one’s immunity declines with age.
Increasingly, we are seeing consumers recognise the critical role that nutrition plays for staying healthy. Keeping fit and active and having a balanced diet have all been major concerns during the pandemic and 2 in 3 consumers now see a healthy diet as key to controlling their future health[ii]. This also includes the growing awareness that carbohydrates differ in quality. For example, incorporating functional ingredients like the slow-release carbohydrate Palatinose can help manage blood glucose levels, lowering the risk of developing Type II diabetes.
Besides our own wellbeing, consumers have also started paying more attention to sustainability, recognising the intrinsic link between our health and that of our planet. Environmental concerns were heightened because of COVID-19, with 60% of consumers now more attentive to the impact their food and drink consumption has on the environment[iii]. This is also driving the growth of plant-based foods, with almost half of the consumers across the globe being interested in this type of diet[iv]. Manufacturers can embrace the plant-based momentum by using proteins from plant sources to create meat- and dairy-free products that are not only more nutritional, but retain a similar taste and texture to the original.
Apart from offering functional ingredients for consumers, manufacturers also have a responsibility to create more sustainable production processes. BENEO is constantly improving sustainability along the entire value chain. This includes supporting sustainable farming to encourage biodiversity, as well as reducing water pollution and soil erosion. We’ve also successfully reduced our specific energy consumption by 50% over the last 30 years, demonstrating our commitment to the planet.
In line with 2022’s theme for World Health Day, manufacturers are not only well-positioned to support consumers with their healthy living objectives through leveraging functional ingredients, but also have a duty to our planet by implementing sustainable manufacturing practices. Only then can we work towards promoting health-focused environments for all.