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Innova Market Insights reveals health is key driver of future food product development


Innova Market Insights reveals health is key driver of future food product development



07 Jul 2023 --- Despite the current atmosphere of financial uncertainty and the cost of living spiraling, consumers surveyed by Innova Market Insights revealed that health is the number one driver of future F&B product development. Notably, consumers of all demographics and income levels prioritize health over affordability, among other factors.


“Health benefits remain at the top of the list for consumers, even in financially challenging times,” says Lu Ann Williams, global insights director at Innova Market Insights. 

Speaking to Food Ingredients First, she explains that consumer food choices involve a “weighted balancing” of a number of factors such as cost savings, health messaging, sustainability and indulgence. 

“How each factor is weighted depends on culture, country, income level, product category and a host of other revolving factors. Certainly, health and well-being remain a top spending priority for consumers, with the primary goal of healthier living and following a healthy, nutritious diet.”

For example, consumers choose to eat fresh foods and cook from scratch as the top ways they seek to eat more healthily. Williams notes that other factors influencing consumers’ choice to pursue a healthy, nutritious diet include time, cost and education. 

Health amid inflation 
The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the war in Ukraine, has created a new cost-of-living crisis in many parts of the world, flags Williams and suppliers are responding with increased NPD in products positioned for the tighter budget.  

Health and well-being remain a top spending priority for consumers, with the primary goal of healthier living and following a healthy, nutritious diet.“Price tends to play a bigger role in food choices during times of inflation and economic uncertainty and consumers plan to compensate most by buying lower-cost items. They are also likely to buy more unbranded or store-branded items, buy in bulk, or take advantage of cost-saving strategies using discount/rebate apps,” she explains. 

Despite this, “healthier living” is still a priority for consumers. Williams believes consumers are tuned into health claims/labels to assess product value, stating that “61% of global consumers agree that health claims or labels on the product have a major influence on their purchasing decision.”

Consumers that Innova Market Insights surveyed in the US and around the world are “sending a clear message that health is the number one driver of food and beverage purchases, ahead of factors such as affordability, flavor and naturalness,” she states.

In addition, nearly 25% of consumers agree that functional ingredients that boost physical or mental health are worth paying more for. However, Williams stresses the importance of innovative nutritious options that also are affordable. 

“Three in five North American consumers surveyed by Innova Market Insights in 2023 report that they are looking for simple and more affordable nutritional solutions to meet their needs, and nearly half agree that it is difficult to eat healthily because nutritious foods are less affordable.”

COVID-19 impacts health 
Moreover, the greater focus on health, driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, has resulted in the adoption of healthier habits for many and increased awareness of the importance of paying attention to both physical and mental well-being, which are increasingly interlinked. 

“While health problems or concerns may have been a stronger driver in the past, we now see consumers in a more positive state of wanting to ‘feel well.’ Younger consumer groups are leading key health and well-being trends, including tailoring to individual needs, more focus on mental and emotional well-being and growing use of functional foods and beverages as part of an overall shift to positive nutrition,” explains Williams.

Since the pandemic, more and more people have been struggling with their mental health and going forward, there will be a rising demand for ways to deal with this,” she comments. 

“Aging well” is also a top consumer driver for adopting a healthier lifestyle, rising in importance with age. Consumers will continue to have more significant control over their health with access to more information and tools. 

Food as medicine
In many countries worldwide, consumers are choosing more products that positively “boost” nutrition and benefit how the body functions. 

“Consumers are now thinking about health more holistically and are eager to deal with their mental as well as physical wellness. The so-called ‘health-boosting’ products are chosen not only for well-established benefits like digestive health or immunity but also for mental health benefits such as mental focus, concentration or to help relax. 

Williams points out that nutrition rises to the top in several measures of consumer sentiment around health and well-being, with three in five consumers surveyed globally saying that healthier living also means following a healthy and nutritious diet. 

Interest in functional nutrition is increasing in many countries, with growing numbers of consumers globally, including in the US, saying they choose products that positively boost nutrition, immunity and (gut) health. 

Future food Interest in functional nutrition is on the rise in many countries.Innova takes an Insights 360° holistic approach that combines consumer data with intelligence on category, product, ingredient, flavor and packaging innovation. Williams says: “We are actively watching the marketplace for the next generation of functional foods, beverages, supplements and ingredients that offer to help consumers cope with the challenges of the future.”

For instance, she flags that plant-based is “struggling in some markets, but it’s here to stay and health remains a key driver.”

“It’s the beginning of the beginning, and we are learning what works and what doesn’t. The industry is looking for ingredients that will help plant-based delivery of taste and texture because this is still a barrier,” Williams notes. 

Moreover, interest in botanicals for health is prevalent in the area of gut/digestive health and immunity and even for detoxifying the body.  

“Probiotic and prebiotic ingredients are increasingly recognized in the world of gut health and continue to perform well within NPD,” she outlines. 

“In recent years, postbiotics have emerged as the next stage in biotic development. Current consumer awareness of the concept remains relatively low, but more and more products are emerging in the supplements market, which should help familiarize such ingredients.”

Overall, platforms for functional ingredients will continue to diversify. Williams concludes that soft drinks and snack bars are important carriers, but other everyday snacks will offer future potential for expansion. 

The world’s biggest B2B food innovation event, the IFT First Annual Event & Expo, kicks off  July 16, 2023, at McCormick Place in Chicago. Innova Market Insights will present new data on key consumer trends driving the industry. 

Responding to this year’s IFT First 2023 theme – Innovation in a Time of Crisis: Can We Future-Proof the Food System? – Innova will share with show attendees its multi-level view of the latest insights, from changing consumer attitudes and category trends to new ingredients and packaging dynamics. 

By Elizabeth Green

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