IRELAND – The COVID-19 pandemic brought attention to the importance of a functional immune system stimulating demand for functional foods and beverages globally.
A recent study conducted by Irish Food and Ingredients Company Kerry revealed that this trend will continue in the future beyond COVID-19.
According to the research, 65 percent of functional beverage consumers are more worried about their health since the start of the pandemic.
Furthermore, when asked about the health concerns that have become more important since the emergence of COVID-19, 59 percent of respondents in the Kerry research cited immunity, while 50 percent said mental health is now a priority.
Kerry notes that as concern for health and wellness continues long after the pandemic, demand for functional foods is also expected to maintain the steady growth it exhibited during the pandemic.
This according to the ingredients giants, translates to the launch of more new products that deliver benefits in areas such as immunity, digestive health, mental health, and cognitive health being
“We expect that demand for products perceived to enhance immunity will continue in the future beyond COVID-19,” says Breda Kelly, Kerry’s nutritional beverage lead for Europe and Russia.
Breda further noted that consumers will be looking for beverages products and ingredients that are healthy and natural, adding that this has implications beyond ingredients and origin
“The emerging consumer is paying closer attention to label claims and callouts as well as product appearance, flavor, aroma and mouthfeel. So, quality must remain high across the board for functional beverages,” she notes.
In addition to this, the Kerry professional says younger age groups are worried about body-mind wellness and their mental health, an opportunity which producers could explore to create products to address these concerns.
Additionally, Kerry notes that as the market for products with functional and nutritional benefits grows, there is increasing consumer demand for formats that meet the needs of different occasions and can be conveniently consumed.
This it notes provides opportunities for different offerings such as functionality in hot drinks like tea and hot chocolate.
“We think the opportunity to create iconic products is still ahead of us,” notes Breda.
Brands will, however, need to communicate the key benefits of the products while also delivering on taste and texture.”
Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE