New research reveals shifting priorities in active nutrition

Tapping into “a holistic approach to health,” “conveniently nutritious” and “conscious indulgence” will help formulators select the most appropriate ingredients for their product

Exclusive research has shown clear changes in the preferences and priorities of the active nutrition market, which will shape its progression in 2020 and beyond.

The collaboration between FrieslandCampina Ingredients, the global innovator in healthy and functional ingredients, and the consumer insights and market research experts, FMCG Gurus, pinpoints three overarching global trends.

Tapping into “a holistic approach to health,” “conveniently nutritious” and “conscious indulgence” will help brand owners and formulators select the most appropriate ingredients for their NPD and develop products that resonate with a growing, and increasingly fastidious, audience.

“With the rapid growth of the active nutrition market, it’s not surprising we’re seeing the emergence of very specific ‘hotspots’ and drivers,” said Mike Hughes, Head of Research and Insight at FMCG Gurus.

A holistic approach to health

FMCG Gurus’ research found 61% of active consumers have tried to improve their overall health and wellness in the last two years. Consumers recognise that all elements of health are interlinked and should not be treated in isolation. As such, they are making fundamental changes to their diets and lifestyles to improve all aspects of their health. Major areas of focus are digestive health, sleep and healthy for longer.

“There’s increasing recognition that digestive health and sleep are crucial to living well. What’s more, people are aware they’re likely to live to an older age than previous generations did, and staying healthy not just now, but also into their senior years is a clear priority. That means a better balance between activity and sleep, which can be strongly influenced by diet,” explained Hughes.

Conveniently nutritious

The snacking and convenience trends are also clearly making their mark among active consumers, 51% of whom skip meals “most” or “all” of the time, often due to time pressures. There is a clear demand for products that are both nutritious and convenient – requiring no preparation and suitable for eating on the go.

On average, 30% of respondents claim to have opted for healthier snacking options in the past two years. In addition, 54% of respondents say they expect snacks to offer a nutritional boost, and 27% say that they would like to see RTD beverages with healthy positionings.

“Active consumers are looking for healthy options throughout the day and in varying formats,” Vicky Davies, Global Marketing Director of Performance and Active Nutrition at FrieslandCampina Ingredients, explained. “This presents a huge opportunity for manufacturers of foods, drinks and supplements alike. The key is ensuring we make it as quick and easy as possible for people to obtain the nutrition they want.”

Conscious indulgence

Despite acknowledging the value of healthy eating and drinking, active consumers feel that both taste and texture are seen as unwelcome compromises. For instance, 53% say they are concerned about the aftertaste of high protein products, and 48% are suspicious of their texture. As the sector expands, there is great potential for brands to create better-for-you products that avoid these compromises.

Beyond this, however, indulgence remains a core characteristic of the relationship people have with food, and active consumers are no exception. However, the market has moved on from small and “forgivable” indulgent moments, towards conscious ones. “This consciousness can take several forms,” said Hughes, “but one of the most prevalent is ingredient sustainability, which was the biggest instigator of changing snacking habits among the sample group. Similarly, our own previous research found that 73% of global consumers say it’s important that food and drink is 100% natural. The conscious trend is very clear.”

Diverse NPD opportunities

“While we have identified several overarching global themes, there are distinct differences between regions, gender and age,” summarised Davies. “For instance, in most markets, spoonable yoghurt is where most active consumers want to see healthy options – but in the US, the preference for this is in regular foods.”

“Two in three active consumers in China don’t know what steps to take to improve their health, suggesting education and guidance would be valuable here, but less so in other markets,” Davies added. “45% of respondents in the Asia Pacific say they have changed their diet in the past 12 months to try to improve their sleep – more than any other region. This unique and detailed local insight enables FrieslandCampina Ingredients to develop, with customers, propositions and products that respond exactly to the unique and fast-moving requirements of their markets.”

These latest insights have been gleaned from several years of research by FrieslandCampina Ingredients and FMCG Gurus, including a global survey this year of 26,000 active adults.

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