Nutrition and health

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

  • We have an aging population, therefore there is a need to understand the nutritional and dietary needs of older consumers.
  • Covid has resulted in a cohort of consumers with affected taste and smell. There is a need to assess the impact of the after-effects of covid on diet and health, as well as how to boost flavours without using sugar and salt.
  • Food is increasingly seen as having an active role in increasing good health. There is a need to be able to quantify the effects of such functional foods on the digestive and immune systems, as well as pinpointing mental health benefits.
  • There is a need to have clarity on the labelling requirements for novel, functional foods. Labelling needs also include standardised calorie counts and sustainability claims.
  • The mental health effects on food industry workers needs to be recognised. There is a need for increased support for those workers who have been isolated for long periods of time.
  • The drive to reduce obesity has resulted in near-universal calorie labelling on food products. Whilst this helps the overweight to reduce calorie intake, there is a need to mitigate the impact this labelling has on those with eating disorders.
  • More consumers are adopting diets with less animal protein. There is a need to educate consumers on how to achieve a balanced diet if reducing animal protein consumption. This will also involve consideration of the nutritional profiles of meat-free products, particularly in the case of analogues of meat products.

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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