In the food and beverage industry, products offering customers that “healthy edge” are both sales drivers and motors for innovation. The success of these products depends entirely on whether customers see them as effective and natural. Cleverly communicating a product’s health benefits and its additives to the consumer raises a number of challenges.
Everyone is talking about chia seeds and other superfoods
The superfood trend is developing at breakneck speed. According to a Nielsen study, 25 percent of German consumers opt to enrich their diets by including superfoods. That’s because more and more people are interested in a balanced diet, and from the consumer’s perspective, superfoods are a good way to live a healthier life. In 2014, the revenues generated by superfoods in Germany amounted to 1.5 million euros. By 2016, this figure had risen to 42.6 million euros. This is a remarkable increase that was mainly triggered by the sales of chia seeds (63% revenue share), although other superfoods such as spirulina, moringa or wheatgrass have also contributed to the trend. According to a study carried out by Mintel, the number of imported “superfood”, “super fruit” or “super grain” foodstuffs and beverages rose globally by 202 percent between 2011 and 2015.
Tailor-made beverage concepts
Companies like SternVitamin that offer tailor-made micronutrient premixes alongside other products for enriching drinks benefit from the superfood and healthy living trends. People who suffer from stress, for example, can enjoy a relaxing premix that includes ginseng extract, niacin, pantothenic acid and vitamins B6, B12 and C. A rich variety of beverage concepts is already on the market – such as collagen peptides, which help build muscle, promote regeneration in joint cartilage, and create stable bones depending on the requirements, or the fiber product Sunfiber from Taiyo, which according to the manufacturer has prebiotic properties and can be used as a sweetener.
Additives: Correct information is key
So far, so healthy. Nevertheless, according to the EU research project CLYMBOL on the role of health-related claims and symbols in consumer behavior, customers are often overwhelmed by all the information and different messages that appear on beverage packaging. The study also found that messages about new ingredients are particularly important for consumers when they are formulated in an easy-to-understand style, and when new information is combined with what consumers might already know.
Consumers are open-minded with regards to functional foods and they recognize the advantages of preventing certain diseases. However, their attitudes aren’t terribly clear: “Consumers find it difficult to identify the long-term benefits that come with nutritional prevention. It’s particularly important to focus on training and education to enhance consumer knowledge on nutrition and awareness of ingredients,” says Prof. Dr. Stefanie Bröring, a lecturer at the Institute for Food and Resource Economics at the University of Bonn. Findings from Michael Siegrist, Professor of Consumer Behavior at ETH Zurich, show that food naturalness is key for consumers: “In the majority of cases, whether a product is consumed depends strongly on how natural consumers perceive the product to be.”
Marketing: First information, then innovation
The sooner beverage manufacturers provide targeted information that is easily understood by consumers, the greater the chances for innovation. A full review of a product’s entire marketing mix and adaptations to meet consumer wishes could lead to concrete sales and revenue advantages for many companies.
As an international platform for the beverage industry, drinktec offers manufacturers the opportunity to discover different additives and innovative beverage concepts from around the world. In Hall B1, which covers more than 11,000 square meters, you’ll find all the information you need on raw materials, ingredients, additives and treatment agents. Visitors can also enjoy the New Beverage Concepts exhibition, an important reference point for everyone in the industry. And a visit to the drinktec forum is worthwhile to find out more about raw materials. Dr. Michael Krohn from B.R.A.I.N AG will provide all kinds of insights on new sweetening solutions. Meanwhile, Dr. Jürgen Seibel from the University of Würzburg will focus on the next generation of functional carbohydrates.