Functional health benefits and new taste experiences await

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Aug 09, 2021 — For centuries, plants have been associated with traditional medicine, aromatherapy, and herbal infusions. Today, consumers continue to perceive herbal remedies as having a “healthy halo”. Given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and the protection of her health, consumers see a positive connection between plants and emotional well-being. FoodIngredientsFirst talks to vendors who share their ideas on navigating the plant world.

Francis De Campos Ferreira, director of the global portfolio, cocoa and botanicals at Kerry, believes that botanicals are “well received by many consumers”.

“COVID-19 has refocused consumers on developing and maintaining their health. Consumers believe that consuming natural, healthy foods has benefits for immune support.

Consumers want to reduce stress, and therefore the herbal remedies that consumers associate with stress relief, especially floral notes, have seen increased use, says De Campos Ferreira.

Click to enlargeKerry sees an upsurge in herbs and flowers such as basil, cilantro, lavender and elderflower, as emerging ingredients in the botanical realm.“We are unequivocally in the age of personal care with the consumer in the driver’s seat,” says Collette Kakuk, vice president of global marketing at Layn Natural Ingredients.

“Consumers are doing their research more than ever and looking for natural solutions with effective and lasting benefits. They demand natural, functional products with evidence and studies – and increasingly personalized solutions delivered in preferred formats.

Boost for health
Today, more and more consumers are proactively seeking healthy foods and drinks that will nourish the mind and body, which has been amplified by COVID-19.

June Lin, global vice president of marketing, health and wellness at ADM, said that since the pandemic, “61% of global consumers say they are more concerned with leading healthier lifestyles, while 76% try to eat and drink healthier “.

In addition to the health and wellness benefits, consumers look for clean, clear labels on products containing known ingredients derived from natural sources.

With this, more and more people are looking for functional and naturally occurring ingredients that are recognizable, looking for foods that can help maintain immune function, cardiovascular health and digestion, improve mood, maintain energy. , help sleep and more, she explains.

Immune function is particularly on the minds of a large majority of consumers, and they are drawn to foods, drinks and supplements that claim to support immune function.

“The holistic plant wellness halo pushes this category forward,” Lin continues. “Consumers connect herbal remedies to real ingredients and foods, blurring the lines between nutritional supplements and food and drink as consumers seek herbal remedies with perceived functional benefits in more offerings.”

Additionally, plants like acerola, elderberry, and echinacea are gaining traction with consumers as solutions they perceive to provide immune support.

Evoke feelings of happiness
Meanwhile, manufacturers are emphasizing the connection between botanical flavors and the corresponding emotions they elicit to create flavors that meet consumer needs.

“This information can be leveraged to provide a stronger taste experience in food and drink and to aid in product development,” says De Campos Ferreira.

Kerry’s taste charts for 2021 identified orange blossom, hibiscus, jasmine and rose as promising flavors for dairy, hot drinks, water and cold drinks.

In Europe, peppermint and lemongrass remain key ingredients, while chamomile and mint are still popular as traditional flavors, says De Campos Ferreira.

“Notably, basil, a well-known savory flavor, is rapidly developing a role as a new taste in beverages where an innovative developer has created a basil and lime soda,” he notes.

Focus on botanical preferencesClick to enlargeBotanicals are gaining traction with consumers as solutions they perceive to provide immune support.
According to Dominique Delfaud, marketing manager for sensory and consumer studies at Mane, botanical preferences are determined by applications and countries.

“We have conducted several consumer studies on herbal medicines to understand consumer perceptions and preferences over the past few years,” she says.

“If we focus on drinks, elderflower, ginseng and turmeric are all the rage in several countries. Verbena, basil and rooibos are also very attractive medicinal plants for specific markets.

With this in mind, Delfaud adds that plants are linked to many functional benefits in the minds of consumers.

“Each botanical is associated with specific benefits,” she emphasizes. “Beyond the functional benefits, plants also have a good taste, much appreciated by consumers. Taste is a key factor in preference in general, and for plants as well, explaining, for example, the appeal of elderflower in many countries.

Diversification of applications
Beverage brands are striving to offer healthier alternatives to their consumers.

“Botany helps them keep coveted promises of well-being,” adds Delfaud. “Botanicals are also trending in food applications, savory snacks, dairy and confectionery applications. “

Meanwhile, Kakuk at Layn says consumers of all ages are turning to supplementation and driving innovation in new delivery formats – from functional foods, drinks, bars and gummies to skin patches and apps. topicals.

“For example, even healthy young millennial consumers are now looking for antioxidants, ingredients to promote healthy inflammation, or brain health and cognition. There are huge opportunities to take advantage of functional ingredients in forms that match the lifestyles and preferences of consumers, ”she points out.

De Campos Ferreira also points out that plants could also help reduce the unhealthy perception that consumers have of drinks, such as soft drinks.

“One of the most significant areas of growth we’ve seen is in flavored waters, with herbal-infused sparkling beverages for taste and health-promoting minerals gaining traction in the market,” t notes -he.

In addition to looking for more nutrient-dense options, people also want tailored, practical solutions that fit into their daily lifestyles, adds Lin at ADM.

According to a study by the company, 49% of consumers believe that each individual is unique and requires a personalized approach to their diet.

“Drinks, bars and snacks all offer take-out formats that can be enhanced by incorporating plants. Specifically, acerola is similar to the common cherry. It goes along with many refreshing drinks, fortified smoothies and protein bars, ”explains Lin, adding that guarana and yerba mate work well in caffeinated drinks,“ making them easy to incorporate into routine routines. morning “.

Click to enlargeBotanicals are all the rage in drinks, salty snacks, dairy products, and confectionery.Consumption with “purpose”
Consumers are looking for ways to indulge themselves wisely, which botanical ingredients can help. “Sixty-four of the world’s consumers say it’s okay to enjoy sweets as part of a healthy diet,” Lin describes.

ADM has developed several concepts that incorporate our functional plants as a way to bridge the gap between indulgent and healthy foods and drinks.

“For example, our Chocolate Coffee Energy Syrup shot is a perfect complement to coffee, smoothies and shakes. It includes our guarana and green coffee extracts as well as our dietary fiber Fibersol and our strain BPL1, which combine to provide energy and antioxidants and support factors associated with metabolic function.

Adapted to on-the-go snacking, ADM has created a functional bar based on Amazonian fruits, acai powders, camu camu and kombucha, guarana extract and Fibersol BPL1.

“Plus, our Whipped Caramel Coffee Truffles provide an extra treat that also supports energy and focus,” notes Lin.

“These truffles are enriched with guarana and green coffee powders and covered with a decadent blend of milk and dark chocolate, providing the perfect afternoon pick-me-up,” Lin concludes.

By Elizabeth Green

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