Riding on a wave of optimism

According to a survey by Vitafoods Europe 2016, the global nutraceutical event, levels of confidence in the nutrition industry are currently riding sky high

Researchers questioned visitors and exhibitors who attended last year’s show about their views on the prospects for the nutrition industry, the latest trends and the current regulatory environment. The results provide a fascinating insight into their opinions across a wide range of issues.

The standout — and most encouraging — finding from the survey was that respondents feel overwhelmingly positive about the market for nutraceuticals. Among visitors to Vitafoods Europe, 87% of those surveyed said they were either very positive or quite positive about the future for the company they run or the business they work for, in terms of sales performance and profitability. Among exhibitors, the corresponding figure was even more emphatic: 94%.

Such impressive levels of optimism look set to be reflected in the forthcoming Vitafoods Europe, which takes place at Palexpo, Geneva, from 10–12 May. Now in its 20th year, this year’s event will be 16 times bigger than the first in 1997, with more than 900 exhibitors covering 40,000m2, and more than 16,500 visitors expected to pass through its doors.

Without doubt, the show has come a long way since the first edition when it featured 100 exhibitors, covered 2500 m2 of floor space and attracted 1200 visitors. In fact, to accommodate its growth, Vitafoods Europe will this year relocate from Palexpo Halls 1 and 2 into Halls 3, 4, 5 and 6. There will be more room for the increasing number of exhibitors booking space at the event and, in addition, a wide selection of new and exciting visitor attractions.

Innovative streak

Our survey also found that the nutrition industry’s innovative streak is alive and well. As many as 88% of the visitors to Vitafoods Europe questioned said their company intends to introduce at least one new product this year, whereas more than a fifth of respondents (22%) said their company would launch 10 or more new products in the next 12 months. A third said they would be launching between five and nine new products.

Among exhibitors, 92% said they would launch at least one new product in the coming year, with 21% planning to introduce 10 or more and another 19% promising between five and nine. Their responses indicate that there are bound to be plenty of innovations to see at this year’s Vitafoods Europe.

In tune with this, the event will feature a number of attractions designed to showcase what’s new in the nutrition industry, including two New Products Zones — one for ingredients and one for finished products. A new addition to this year’s show will be the Vitafoods LaunchPad, where visitors can hear concise, bite-sized presentations from exhibitors about the latest product launches in the nutrition industry. LaunchPad will take place in the Vitafoods Centre Stage, a new theatre that will play host to a wide selection of stimulating events.

There will be further opportunities to discover what’s new in the industry with the new Vitafoods Springboard. This will be a dedicated space for visitors to engage with start-ups and other entrepreneurs at the cutting edge of the nutrition sector. It will offer insights into the latest ingredients, products and technologies that make it possible to tap into current and future trends.

The new Tasting Bar Spotlight, meanwhile, will be an extension of the existing Tasting Bar. It will give exhibitors the chance to present their products to visitors while simultaneously offering them the opportunity to taste and sample them.

Greater consumer awareness

Much has changed in the nutrition industry since Vitafoods Europe first took place in 1997. Chief among these changes, our survey results suggest, is that consumers are far more interested in diet and well-being. In our survey, 92% of visitors to Vitafoods Europe and 100% of exhibitors said they believed consumers are more knowledgeable about good nutrition now than they were two decades ago. In the light of this, visitors and exhibitors both cited increased consumer awareness about nutrition as the biggest opportunity for the company they run or work for (50% and 62%, respectively).

The single health category area of most interest to the visitors in our survey was healthy ageing, selected by more than a quarter of respondents (26%). Other popular choices were digestive health (chosen by 23%), cardiovascular health (22%) and weight management (21%). There will be a major focus on all of these topics at this year’s Vitafoods Europe Conference. Particularly exciting is the news that the conference will offer delegates a chance to hear the latest results from four major EU-funded nutrition projects exploring three of these areas: weight management, heart health and healthy ageing.

Health claims are important

Another significant change in the nutrition industry in the past 20 years has been the advent of new regulations in Europe that have made life much tougher for nutraceutical businesses. Most notable among these are the 2006 Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation and the Novel Foods Regulation, which — like Vitafoods Europe — also came into being in 1997.

When our survey asked respondents to name the factors that represent the biggest challenges to the company they run or work for, stricter regulation was the most commonly selected answer, chosen by 39% of visitors and 37% of exhibitors. We also asked respondents how important they believed it was that a nutrition ingredient or product is associated with an EFSA-approved health claim. Among visitors, 84% considered it to be either quite or very important, and 81% of exhibitors agreed.

Regulation is clearly a hot topic in the nutrition industry and Vitafoods Europe 2016 will offer a number of ways to catch up with the latest developments. A new attraction this year will be the Regulatory Advice Centre in association with EAS Strategies, in which visitors will be able to connect one-to-one with experts and discuss the implications of global regulations in the nutrition sector. There will also be major focus on regulation at the Vitafoods Centre Stage.

At the Vitafoods Europe Conference, meanwhile, EAS Strategies will present a special extended and in-depth workshop exploring a roadmap for bringing new nutritional ingredients to the EU market. The conference will also feature a look at the regulatory aspects of packaging, including the tricky issue of intellectual property, from law firm Bird & Bird.

Increased focus on business challenges

Despite its continued success, Vitafoods Europe isn’t standing still. The organizers have announced changes that will increase the focus of the event on the key areas that matter most to visitors — helping them to meet the business challenges they face in today’s fast-moving market. The show will continue to serve the nutraceutical market but will be focused on four distinct sectors, as follows: ingredients and raw materials; finished products; contract manufacturing and private label; and services and equipment.

This means the event will offer more content specifically concentrating on each of these areas, ensuring a richer experience for visitors. Vitafoods Europe will now cover the whole spectrum of the nutraceutical industry, with Finished Products Europe becoming fully integrated within the Vitafoods Europe brand. And that’s not all. Vitafoods Europe 2016 will also see the introduction of a host of innovative new attractions that will put the emphasis on great content, interactivity and really bringing nutrition to life.

Premiering in 2016 will be the Sports Nutrition Zone, where visitors can discover the very latest developments in the exciting and fast-growing sports nutrition category. In the Optimal Health Testing Centre, meanwhile, exhibitors will demonstrate how it’s possible to identify specific health needs and deliver tailored nutrition solutions to meet them.

In the new Life Stages Theatre, leading independent experts will discuss specific nutrition requirements for consumers of all ages, from infant to senior. There will be stimulating panel discussions tackling current hot topics, such as personalised nutrition, appealing to millennial consumers, addressing allergies and optimal nutrition for infants and children.

Elsewhere, a new Packaging Innovation Centre will provide an insight into advances in packaging technology, with a focus on hot topics such as design, delivery systems, convenience, labelling and sustainability.

All the new additions for 2016 will build on the many existing, successful attractions that have proved popular with visitors in previous years, including the Innovation Tours with NutriMarketing, which will focus on five topics: the importance of food origin, vegan food, free-from formulations, healthy snacking, and future food forms for tomorrow’s consumers.

Other popular features returning this year include the Exhibition Presentation Theatre, the Tasting Bar, and the Market and Trend Overview in association with Innova Market Insights. The Omega-3 Resource Centre in association with GOED, which made its debut at Vitafoods Europe 2015, returns in 2016 but will be twice as big with many new features.

Coming back for a third year running, meanwhile, is the Nutrition Capital Network European Investor Meeting (NCN Europe III), where businesses and individuals in the nutrition sector can present their ideas to strategic and private equity investors. NCN Europe III will take place on Monday 9 May 2016, the day before the show itself opens.

In addition, NCN will host the Venture Den on the Vitafoods Centre Stage on Tuesday 10 May, at 4 pm. In this new, exciting, fast-paced business pitch contest, three companies selected by NCN will compete in front of a panel of judges for an array of valuable prizes. Companies will have the opportunity to enter the Venture Den as part of the application process for the NCN Europe III investor meeting.

A truly international affair

As in previous years, Vitafoods Europe 2016 will be a truly international affair, with exhibitors from all over the world. As well as companies from a multitude of countries participating independently, there will be a total of eight national pavilions, with exhibitors from Belgium, China, Croatia, France, India, Korea, Poland and the US.

During the past two decades, Vitafoods Europe has become the essential international event for everyone working in the global nutraceutical industry. This year’s edition will be no different. It is set to be the largest nutrition industry gathering of its kind to date, and will offer more exhibitors, more conference speakers and more visitor attractions than ever before.

Vitafoods Europe 2016 is the perfect environment to meet and connect with new and existing contacts, to discover what’s new and — most importantly — to get business done. The event is sure to be buzzing with excitement, reflecting the high levels of positivity we found in our survey of visitors and exhibitors. Unquestionably, it’s a great time to be in the nutrition industry.