Developing food and drink for a nutrition, health and wellbeing market
Campden BRI's recent survey to identify innovation needs of the food and drink industry highlights the key areas of importance to the industry of nutrition, health and wellbeing within the food and drink industry. In particular the industry is seeking support in:
- Enhancing nutritional potential
- Preserving and enhancing nutritional value in processing, distribution and sale
- Delivering nutritious products that meet dietary needs
- Responding to nutritional requirements and dietary habits
This paper outlines some of the challenges facing companies aiming to grow within or enter this innovation space and proposes approaches that support the development of nutritious food and drink products.
We are all acutely aware of the growing concerns surrounding our health. This is in part due to an increase in sedentary lifestyles and changes in our dietary habits. These gradual changes have led to an increase in conditions associated with diet, including obesity, Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The growth in understanding within the industry and consumers has led to increased product innovation and design of menus that are ‘good for you’. However, it is important to remember that consumer purchases are also driven by convenience, taste and value.
In the UK, the government is leading the Public Health Responsibility Deal, which encourages food and drink manufacturers and food service providers to sign up to pledges focused on calorie, fat, salt and sugar reduction. Reformulation of current products to contain lower levels of fat, salt and sugar is one approach; however, an increasing number of companies are innovating in the nutrition, health and wellbeing space by developing products that are inherently ‘good for you’ by utilising functional properties of ingredients. Some of these ingredients and associated properties have been known for some time. This innovation activity can give a company a competitive edge and USP in a growing market. It may sometimes be possible, with these functional foods, to make a specific health claim.
A multidisciplinary approach
NPD is a team game. The effective NPD team takes inputs from marketers, technologists, key scientists, manufacturing specialists and the legal experts. Clearly many companies have all the expertise they need in house but, particularly in the health and wellbeing market, there are specialist inputs that support the main team with relation to specific ingredients, technologies and health claims. These are often accessed through consultancy and other external supports.
Marketing is key, not only from the point of view of consumer demand, but also in the positioning of the product alongside existing products from the company and its competitors. Getting all the relevant inputs early on in the cycle eases the development and scale up to manufacture and also makes sure commercial success is achieved as soon as possible in these exciting markets.