Consumer demand for multifunctional immune products driven by health goals
Today’s consumers are increasingly savvy and sophisticated, with access to an ever-growing wealth of information at their fingertips.
Well-read and educated when it comes to health, they make choices based on trusted news sources and the latest science, zoning in on what impacts them and their family. For most, maximizing the quality of their lives, as well as their families’, is high on their agenda. Globally, as many as 64% of consumers say they are striving to lead healthier lifestyles by making choices that will keep them healthy today and reduce their risk of illness in the future. For consumers in Latin America, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, this figure increases to 95%.1
Consumers are increasingly tuned into health at a holistic level, and in particular that relating to the role of immunity and the relationship between the gut microbiome and immune health. Seven in ten consumers recognize a direct link between immunity and gut health, and awareness is increasing on the impact of stress on wellbeing. With this holistic understanding and quality of life a priority, consumers seek solutions that support immune health by tackling the root cause, such as stress reduction, in relation to the gut microbiome.
The question for manufacturers is how to stand out in a crowded market of immune health products? How do they create formulations and formats that satisfy a range of specific needs while ticking the boxes of convenience, taste and functionality – the purchase drivers so crucial to today’s consumer?
Solving for busy and evolved lifestyles
Consumers are actively engaged in making choices based on science-backed solutions that support immune health. Meeting specific health goals is the primary reason global consumers purchase fortified and functional beverages (71%) and supplements (60%), indicating that, in a saturated market, brand differentiation is key. Meanwhile, almost nine out of ten (88%) global consumers say they read the nutritional or supplemental panel on product packaging; 83% read packaging claims and certifications; and 79% say they research the ingredients used in a product. As well as a streamlined ingredient list, consumers want products that carry a range of free-from claims, as the concept of green and clean becomes ever-more associated with the concept of positive nutrition.
In addition, ‘personalized’ nutrition is especially important for consumers who want options tailored for specific age groups and areas – women’s health, infants’ health, children’s health, and active lifestyle solutions, for example. Globally, 65% of consumers take a proactive approach to their individual health, yet just over a third believe the market offers nutritional products tailored to their specific health needs. In addition, many are part of multi-generational families, and manage multiple and varied immune health needs.
In just one example, take a professional couple in their mid-thirties. Naturally health-conscious and actively informed, they play a key role in the immune health of their young children, as well as their own. With busy schedules and limited time, everything their children consume needs to serve one if not several purposes. And as well as caring for their children, they cater for the health needs of their own parents, supporting them to live active, independent lives of their own. As a result, they seek out immune-supporting functional products with multiple benefits that fit into their busy, on-the-go lifestyles of juggling children, complex family lives and careers.
A cross-functional collaboration
For manufacturers, differentiating themselves from the volume of immune health products already on the market is crucial. Equally key is communicating the value of a product’s benefits to specific age groups and demographic, so that consumers understand the method of action, and can assess the quality of the ingredients and make confident purchase decisions.
Blending taste, texture and nutrition within on-trend products that continually meet consumer demand, Kerry’s global and local teams can bring manufacturers and CPG companies’ expertise to life with a raft of ingredient solutions across food, beverages and supplements. Whether it’s reformulating an existing product or innovating something new, collaborating in innovation brings ideas to life, all the while solving for processing challenges, improving sustainability credentials or optimising flavour, mouthfeel and health benefits.
Underpinned by the latest consumer insights and sensory science to solve manufacturing and regulatory challenges, and backed by numerous studies validating their benefits, Kerry’s portfolio of ProActive Health ingredients includes:
Wellmune® A natural food, beverage and supplement ingredient clinically proven to help strengthen and support the immune system. A proprietary baker’s yeast beta 1-3/1-6 glucan, Wellmune® makes it easier for consumers of all ages to be healthy and stay healthy. And because it is tasteless and odourless, it can easily be incorporated into a variety of foods, beverages and supplements.
Sensoril® Ashwagandha Extract As consumers seek out products for mental wellbeing, they are increasingly turning to ashwagandha, a time-honoured Ayurvedic botanical. Sensoril® supports cognitive health with clinically studied benefits for stress, sleep, mood, energy and focus, further supporting a healthy immune system function. Furthermore, Kerry’s taste technologies can help manufacturers formulate products with Sensoril® that mask ashwagandha’s strong taste.
BC30™ With the probiotic market continuing to expand, BC30™ is an ideal ingredient to add to products, from yoghurts to muffins, to promote digestive, immune and protein absorption support that fits into consumers’ daily routines and dietary needs. Shelf-stable up to three years, requiring no refrigeration, it can survive harsh manufacturing processes and is easy to formulate into functional foods and beverages without changes to composition or taste.
Sporevia® (Bacillus subtilis ATCC12226) Thanks to its protective outer layer, this spore-forming probiotic ingredient remains viable through manufacturing processes and during digestive transit for maximum digestive health support. With a shelf life of up to 30 months, Sporevia® is especially well-suited for supplement applications, including capsules, tablets, gummies and powders, as well as functional food and beverages, to meet consumers’ busy lifestyles.
LC40® (Lactobacillus fermentum) is an immunity-boosting probiotic strain derived from the human breast milk of healthy mothers. For women, it has been clinically shown to support breast health during lactation, while for babies, LC40® as an ingredient in formula has been shown to help support healthy immune systems, reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections and diarrhoea.
For more insights on consumers' health goals, access Kerry's latest infographic here.
1. Kerry Proprietary Consumer Research – Fortified & Functional 2022.