Nutritionally speaking, consumers are a tough bunch to second guess. One moment, sugar’s out, but then permissible indulgence pops up to make things a bit more complicated. One moment, consumers want everything to go towards helping their gut, but then brain health habits heave into view.
Basically, active nutrition NPD is a dynamic and ever-changing field, with new research efforts from FrieslandCampina Ingredients and consumer insights and market research experts, FMCG Gurus, revealing areas of potential change in terms of global active consumer habits in 2020 and beyond.
Encompassing snacking, indulgence, healthy eating, convenience and holistic habits, the research points to “diverse NPD opportunities,” with the narrowing down of holistic focus to digestive health and sleep the first point of note.
Gut health is pretty big in the UK right now, both in retail and in foodservice, with the latest active consumer research indicating a continuation of the trend, both at home and abroad.
FMCG Gurus’ research found 61% of active consumers have tried to improve their overall health and wellness in the last two years, with this pointing to growing realisation among consumers that all elements of health are interlinked and should not be treated separately.
Consumers are making fundamental changes to their diets and lifestyles to improve all aspects of their health, reads the report, with the two main areas of focus being digestive health and sleep, both in aid of a longer life.
“There’s increasing recognition that digestive health and sleep are crucial to living well,” said Mike Hughes, head of research and insight at FMCG Gurus.
“What’s more, people are aware they’re likely to live to an older age than previous generations did, and staying healthy not just now, but also into their senior years is a clear priority. That means a better balance between activity and sleep, which can be strongly influenced by diet.”
With younger, more food-curious generations starting to have one eye on old age, there could be new opportunities for little explored NPD around niche health benefits, including immune system support.
According to the research, 51% of active consumers globally skip meals most or all of the time, often due to time pressures, with the report claiming that there is “clear demand” for convenient, nutritious products that require little to no preparation.
On average, 30% of respondents claim to have gone for healthier snacking options in the past two years, while 54% of respondents say they expect snacks to offer a nutritional boost and 27% say that they would like to see more beverages with healthier positionings.
Much like the hurdles faced by the plant-based movers in the industry, taste and texture are key stumbling blocks when trying to attract consumers to nutritionally-orientated products. Indeed, the research states that consumers see both taste and texture as “unwelcome compromises,” with 53% globally saying they are concerned about the aftertaste of high protein products, and 48% are suspicious of their texture.
The research also points to a change in perception with indulgence from small and “forgivable” moments to more conscious ones, with the main snacking focus being on sustainability.
“This consciousness can take several forms,” continues Hughes, “but one of the most prevalent is ingredient sustainability, which was the biggest instigator of changing snacking habits among the sample group.
“Similarly, our own previous research found that 73% of global consumers say it’s important that food and drink is 100% natural. The conscious trend is very clear.”