Editor’s note: Simone Baroke is a contributing analyst at Euromonitor International. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title “Top 10 global consumer health and wellness trends for 2014.”
In 2014, the global health and wellness market will continue to be driven by demand for natural products, with consumers becoming increasingly sophisticated in their expectations. Not only do they want less of the “bad” stuff (and this now includes gluten, lactose, etc.), but they also want more of the good, such as protein, veggie and functional properties. Emerging economies, characterized by poverty and wealth coexisting side by side, are driving global health and wellness growth, and, sadly, the challenging economic conditions mean that food fraud has crept into the spectrum of First World consumer concerns.
Top 10 Global Consumer Health and Wellness Trends for 2014
1. Protein rules
2. Enhanced natural merging with free-from
3. Meat reduction is the word
4. More veggies please!
5. Sugar reduction – by stealth in food but openly in beverages
6. Emerging markets drive global health and wellness growth
7. Cold pressed juice is the new premium
8. Probiotics are conquering the southern hemisphere
9. Wholegrain controversy
10. Health and wellness products under suspicion of fraud
Source: Euromonitor International
Here is a look at five of the top 10 (click here to read the remaining five):
1. Protein rules. Without a shred of doubt, the protein trend is dominating 2014. The boom may have started with Greek yoghurt in the U.S., but now the high-protein badge graces tubs and packets in virtually every packaged food and beverage category, swiftly expanding its geographical spread.
What we will see throughout this year is an increased protein emphasis in breakfast foods as well as snacking. Breakfast foods, and especially cereal-based breakfasts such as toast and jam, croissants and, of course, breakfast cereals, are notoriously low in protein. Standard cornflakes, for instance, provide less than 3g of protein per serving. The addition of milk doubles this quantity but it still fails to turn a traditional bowl of cereal into a high-protein breakfast.
Chips/crisps, like all purely potato-based products, are also very low in protein, and this is the largest sweet and savory snacks category, accounting for 23 percent of the wider category’s global value in 2013. Nuts, in comparison, which are naturally high in protein, claimed just 13 percent. However, nuts were also the most dynamic type of sweet and savory snack in 2013, posting global value growth of 9 percent, double that of chips/crisps.
Another development we are likely to see on the back of this is the proliferation of legume-based snacks. Roasted chickpea (garbanzo bean) snacks, offered for example by U.S.-based snack maker The Good Bean, are a perfect example. The company points out that its chickpea-based snacks, which come in a variety of flavors, including Smoky Chili and Sweet Cinnamon, contain as much protein as almonds, while being low in fat and carbs. Roasted chickpeas, which are tasty, nutritious and affordable, are a popular snack in India and served as the inspiration for this product range.
The appearance of protein combination products is also going to be a hallmark of 2014. Kraft has just launched a snack product under its Oscar Mayer brand called P3, which stands for “Portable Protein Pack.” The pack features three compartments filled with meat, peanuts and cheese.
2. Enhanced natural merging with free-from. Consumer demand for natural products shows no sign of abating and the clean label trend remains in full swing. Zapping suspect artificial additives is still not enough, however. What we have been observing is that, besides hankering after natural products, consumers also want functionality, demanding what may be termed “enhanced natural” offerings. The aforementioned high protein trend is a clear manifestation of this.
Furthermore, consumer expectations that a natural, clean-label product should also confer some sort of functionality do not stop there. To many, a truly healthy food or beverage should be free from substances such as gluten, dairy, wheat, soy etc. This is further fueling the free-from trend, which is not entirely separate from the natural trend at all – a significant overlap exists.
Our data show that over the review period gluten-free food topped the global health and wellness product growth charts ahead of fortified/functional. In the U.S., value sales rocketed by 110 percent. Lactose-free food performed particularly well in Australasia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Latin America.
Life for ingredients manufacturers is not about to get any easier. Finding acceptable substitutes for gluten, lactose and other such widespread food components which convey essential properties during the production process as well as the palatability of the finished product is all but easy to achieve. But, in a world where value erodes increasingly quickly, thanks to private-label and me-too products shrinking the window of competitive advantage, food industry players cannot take their eyes off evolving consumer preferences.
3. Meat reduction is the word. In highly developed consumer markets, the drive towards meat reduction, rather than a switch to outright vegetarianism, is already in evidence. This trend, also popularly referred to as “flexitarianism,” is being driven by four key concerns – health and wellness, animal welfare, environmental issues and tight finances.
Our fresh food data show that over the 2008-2013 review period fresh meat volumes declined by 2 percent in North America and remained stagnant in Western Europe. In the latter region, frozen meat substitute value sales rose by 7 percent in 2013, and in Germany by as much as 23 percent. Earlier this year, the Belgian Superior Health Council, a scientific advisory body to the Belgian government, recommended that no more than 500g of fresh red meat should be consumed in a week per person in order to ward off illnesses like colorectal cancer. Official guidelines advocating the moderation of meat consumption may soon proliferate across the globe.
Consumers are more highly conscious of their protein intake than ever and so eating less meat and maintaining or even upping protein can present quite a challenge. For this reason, 2014 is going to see a boom of foods and beverages marketed as high in vegetarian protein across all categories. Meat substitutes also stand to gain a new lease of life, particularly products that conform to up-to-date consumer preferences, including lactose-, gluten- and wheat-free offerings.
4. More veggies please! Getting one’s five (or six, seven or nine, depending on the country of residence) a day is no easy feat, especially where vegetables are concerned. Fruit is comparatively easy as it mostly already comes ready to eat and the ubiquitous chilled packs of chopped-up mangoes, melons, pineapple, etc., are a boon for consumers wanting to save time on tedious tasks like peeling and de-coring. Dried fruit snacks, 100-percent fruit smoothies and tubes filled with fruit purée that can be eaten on the go are another convenient way to cram one or two extra fruit portions into a busy day.
Vegetables are much trickier. Besides tending to need more preparation than fruit, consumption occasions are more limited because they are not a common breakfast food, nor do they make for a popular dessert choice.
The industry has recently started to tackle this problem in creative ways. For instance, we now have veggie bread. Country Harvest Veggie bread, introduced in Canada last year by George Weston, the country’s leading bread manufacturer, boasts one full serving of vegetables per slice. There are three varieties – Green Pepper and Spinach, Carrot Celery and Leek and Tomato, Red Pepper and Zucchini.
London-based sandwich company Plan Bread is currently bent on re-conquering the U.K. capital’s lunchtime sandwich market by homing in on today’s top health and wellness concerns. The flour for its sandwich bread is made entirely from dried broccoli florets, plus some added fiber. In terms of nutritional properties, broccoli bread has pretty much everything that today’s discerning health and wellness consumer could possibly ask for – it has 70 percent fewer calories than standard bread, has less than a 2 percent carbohydrate content, a low glycemic index (GI), is wheat-free, gluten-free, yeast-free, soy-free and high in fiber.
Meanwhile, Blue Hill Inc., a U.S. dairy company, has been working on bringing about the next dairy revolution – savory yogurt. In the final quarter of 2013, the company launched a range of vegetable yogurts under its eponymous brand. Currently, there are six flavor varieties – Carrot, Sweet Potato, Beet, Butternut Squash, Tomato and Parsnip. The company uses vegetable purée in its yogurts, which accounts for around one-third of the product.
There is certainly plenty of untapped demand for more vegetable products and consumers are sure to welcome any convenient and tasty offerings the industry can come up with in 2014 and beyond.
5. Sugar reduction – by stealth in food but openly in beverages. The war on sugar continues. In January 2014, the global campaign Action on Sugar was launched in a bid to reduce the average consumer’s sugar intake through calling on food manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of food and drink products by 30 percent, primarily through stealth.
Sugar has long been under attack due to its link with obesity, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and its detrimental impact on oral health across all ages. Euromonitor International’s Countries & Consumers data show that globally diabetes affected 660 million people in 2012, with the problem not restricted to developed markets. “Bad Western diets” are increasingly being adopted in emerging economies, driving the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in those markets too.
The stealth approach is favored by manufacturers, as many consumers will remain blissfully unaware that their favorite food and drink products have been altered and they will continue to buy them without being suspicious of their taste or texture having deteriorated in any way.
While stealth is an option for reduced-sugar beverages – Fanta, for example, has been successfully reformulated by stealth – they will fare better than packaged foods if marketed as low/reduced-sugar. Consumers readily turn to low-calorie alternatives, particularly as natural sugar replacers such as stevia are increasingly being used by leading manufacturers and smaller players alike. The category is set to record absolute growth of $4.8 billion over 2013-2018.