Is Your Business Prioritizing Immunity-Boosting Foods?
With more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in an effort to avoid getting sick, people are taking a greater interest in the health and nutrition quality of the foods they eat. Whether take-out meals ordered from local restaurants or dinners prepared at home, the food and beverage industry has taken note of this trend and is making preparations to give their customers what they want.
Do you have the kind of foods currently available that your 2021 customers want? Are there any products in development that can capture the growing healthy eating segment of the market?
Keep these things in mind…
Whether you are developing new products or ordering food and beverages for your grocery store shelves and restaurant menu.
Probiotics can be heavy hitters.
Foods that contain these helpful bacteria, including yogurt products with live cultures and fermented items like kombucha, are a growing trend in the food and beverage industry, with the market expected to reach $136.5 billion by 2024. Probiotics are a medically proven and tested way to support healthy digestion and treat a small number of immune response-related health issues, from allergies to viral infections. New research cited by Forbes suggests that consuming more probiotics could help reduce antibiotic prescriptions by 2.2 million while eliminating 54 million sick days per year, saving some $919 million in productivity.
Yogurt is the clear favorite for probiotics, with Chobani and Danone North America seeing successful product introduction and growth since the pandemic started. There’s room for growth and a market for more when it comes to food and beverages containing probiotics.
Functional foods could be a big part of the future.
If consumers think a new food product can do something to improve their overall health and wellness or serve a function in their diet, they’re more interested and willing to give it a try. Foods that are fortified, enriched, or otherwise nutritionally enhanced are big sellers, with global sales in 2020 topping $267 billion and sales of naturally healthy food reaching $259 billion at the same time.
This might explain why pickles and pickled foods are suddenly so popular. Consumers believe these foods can help boost their immune health. Sixty percent of adults want to eat more so-called superfoods, including elderberry and melon in addition to kombucha and pickled vegetables, to say nothing of fiber-rich foods and those that have high amounts of protein, vitamin D, calcium, nuts or seeds, and whole grains. Another 40% of adults want to add more antioxidants, omega-3s like those found in fish and fish oil products, green tea, and probiotics to their diets. And foods containing turmeric (a bright yellow, savory spice) have seen sales grow by more than 179% in just three years.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to how effective these foods are at boosting your health. It’s widely known that taking vitamin supplements, like daily multivitamins, only help to a point. The American Council on Science and Health note that only a small portion of functional ingredients improve a person’s health that can be medically observed.
Which minerals are worth mining?
Most dietitians, nutritionists, and food scientists will tell consumers and food manufacturers that the best source of nutrients and vitamins are whole foods – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. – foods that are minimally processed and closest to their original form.
If you’re looking to develop new products that could contain higher amounts of crucial vitamins, consider the following:
- Vitamin C, which can help prevent or reduce infections, is plentiful in citrus fruit like oranges and spinach, kale, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, and papaya.
- Vitamin E, an antioxidant that can also help safeguard against infection and support the immune system, is plentiful in almonds, peanuts, and peanut butter, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and some seed-based oils include sunflower, safflower, and soybean oil.
- Vitamin A, another powerful tool against infections, is abundant in fish, meat and dairy, dark green leafy vegetables, and carotenoid-rich plants, including carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and other naturally orange-colored foods.
- Vitamin D is something people only think about when the daily sunlight availability starts to drop. Still, it’s also essential for immune health and can be found in fortified foods like milk, orange juice, and cereal, as well as oily fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines.
- Folate and folic acid are commonly added to foods labeled as “fortified” or “enriched” but can also be found naturally in beans, lentils, green vegetables, and avocados.
- Iron isn’t just for superheroes – it carries oxygen to the blood and keeps the immune system strong. It’s easier to absorb iron from animal proteins, including red meat, chicken, turkey, canned sardines, oysters, clams, mussels, and canned light tuna. For vegetarians and vegans, look for iron in beans, broccoli, kale, and iron-fortified cereals.
- Selenium, which can fortify the immune system against infections, is found in animal sources and Brazil nuts (100% of the daily value in a single nut!). Unlike other vitamins, there can be adverse outcomes from consuming too much, so be careful when formulating these products.
- Zinc helps produce new immune cells. Like other nutrients, it is most abundant in animal proteins but can be found in sizable quantities in vegetarian-friendly foods like oysters, crab, baked beans, yogurt, and chickpeas.
Design your next successful product.
Choose to develop new products with “superfoods,” fortified ingredients, whole foods, and raw ingredients in mind. Know that consumers are hungry for it and are willing to try new and unusual items. The healthy eating trend is not likely to fade after COVID-19 eventually slides from the headlines.
If you’re looking to hire a new Director of R&D, Food Scientist, or Natural Foods Product Marketing category leader, contact Kinsa Group. We have the network connections and experience you need to grow your team.