March 23, 2021

Functional & Plant-Based: Meeting rising demand for ‘healthier’ food thumbnail image

Over the past year, we have all seen our behaviours and habits change in response to unexpected circumstances – with our relationship to food and drink also shifting. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more attention than ever before is being placed on feeding both our bodies and our minds, and global consumers are seeking better quality foods that can optimise their health.

It’s unlikely that these behavioural changes will go away anytime soon – we’re all more mindful of the effect what we eat has on our body and mind. So, how can food and drink manufacturers tap into this new way of thinking? Could fruit and vegetable ingredients offer a solution?

Immunity enhancement
Consumers are increasingly reaching for products in supermarkets that aren’t just tasty – but which also help protect their physical health. Ingredients lists now include a whole range of immune-boosting ingredients from red beet and spinach, to minerals, vitamins, prebiotics and probiotics. Indeed, a recent report found that immunity and general prevention were among the top reasons for consumer use of functional foods.

Take the antioxidant-rich elderberry, for example, which has been touted as an effective combatant against flus and viruses. In September 2020, Weller launched a sparkling water range called ‘Elderberry Immunity Support’ that combines elderberry juice with peach, lemon, lime and strawberry, ‘driven by increased consumer interest in immune-boosting products.’ Other immunity-enhancing fruits and vegetables include citrus fruits (high in vitamin C, which supports the development of white blood cells), blueberries, raspberries and broccoli.

As a result of the pandemic, many have experienced heightened stress, anxiety and low mood – which has all been linked to disrupted socialising, spending more time at home and disturbed sleeping patterns. As a result, when choosing food and drink, consumers are now also looking for products that promote mental and emotional wellbeing – 60% of Europeans, in fact, during COVID-19.

Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins and fibre we need to keep mentally healthy, but brands are also exploring the role sweet treats play in promoting self-care and mental wellness. Seeking nostalgia and comfort, many consumers are purchasing permissible indulgences and healthier snacks that don’t impact on their health goals. Adding strawberry concentrate or berry puree into applications such as ice creams, yoghurts and biscuits is a simple way of making guilty pleasures a little more virtuous yet just as decadent.

Holistic & healthful
As we slowly emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is apparent that the trend for functional food and drink products seemingly isn’t going anywhere soon. For manufacturers, there are numerous opportunities to innovate and offer global consumers healthy, comforting food and beverage products.

If you’re looking for a way to harness the natural goodness of high-quality fruit and vegetables in your products, SVZ can help. Get in touch today to find out more!

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