Nutrition and health - industry driver

Preserving the nutritional quality of products has always been a food industry priority. As consumers become more aware of the impact of their nutrition on health, the food and drink industry must respond to highlight the health benefits of existing products, and develop new products that match new advances in knowledge such as the influence of microbiome on health. Coupled to this, there is also pressure to reformulate existing products to improve health.

Fundamental needs

  • Consumers and government are pressing for ever lower levels of preservatives, salt, sugar and fat in products. Their replacements need to maintain the functionality of the originals without compromising the quality or nutritional balance of the reformulated product. Guidance on labelling such products is also required.
  • The consumer is now in a position to be able to choose foods that have real health benefits. Tools to educate the consumer in making healthier choices, together with feedback on the influencers of those choices to industry, will help to improve health.
  • The relationship between food choices and positive impact on health requires more study. Influences on long-term health conditions such as diabetes are becoming more apparent, as is the role of the gut microbiome in overall health. Better understanding of the relationship between health conditions, demographics and food choices will lead to a more nuanced approach to the production of healthier foods.
  • Changing regulatory landscapes (e.g. post-Brexit) stimulate the need for clear guidance on the implications of new rules and guidelines. There is also the need for clear advice on how to support nutrition and health claims on products.
  • Pressure to reduce ingredients associated with poor health, such as salt, sugar and fat, is coupled to pressure to include ingredients that promote good health(such as high micronutrient ingredients). Reliable information on the effects of novel ingredients on human health is needed to inform product development.
  • Process changes can alter the nutritional profile of foods. Minimal processing is increasingly used to deliver foods with functional health benefits. The challenge is in how to maximise the nutritional profile of the food whilst maintaining the quality, safety and cost of comparable more heavily processed products.

Emerging needs

  • High Fat Sugar and Salt (HFSS) legislation affecting the sale of these products is due to be implemented in October 2022. There is talk of a further delay in response to recent inflationary pressures, as well as a need for more of the industry to be educated on its implications.
  • Calorie values on menus are now mandatory for larger companies. The impact of this is not clear, therefore there is a need to define and collect data on the health and commercial effects of this legislation.
  • Cannabis use in those states of the USA that have legalised it have impacted on sales of beer. There is a need to explore this in more depth, taking into account the various impacts on health of both products.
  • Fermented and 'functional' foods are becoming more widely sold. Impacts on gut health, as well as the nutritional benefits of such foods need to be assessed in an objective manner.
  • Younger consumers are turning to low / no alcohol versions of alcoholic drinks. There is a need for the impact of this trend on health and the drinks industry to be studied objectively.
  • Ultra-processed foods are perceived to be bad for health. The food industry needs to define what is meant by the term, and then produce clear information on the nutritional quality and health implications of those foods falling under that definition.
  • Vegan and plant-based foods are becoming increasingly popular. There is a need to assess whether analogues of meat containing products such as burgers or sausages fall into the category of ultra-processed foods. There is also a need to assess how much further demand can climb in this area.

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of Campden BRI but are a summary of industrial feedback obtained from Campden BRI’s Member Interest Groups and interactions with government bodies and wider industry.

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