Functional and Fortified Food Trends for 2011


 

The global market for products delivering on health claims shows no signs of slowing down. Mainstream media continues to report on research      that comes to light almost every day which highlights specific nutrients and the role they play in our long term wellness. For 2011, Fortitech  believes a few of the trends we will see continuing to gain in popularity to include:

• Continued development on food and beverage products that target the growing obesity epidemic, as well as other health        

• Conditionspecific products targeting the areas of cognitive function, type 2 diabetes and bone/joint health to name a few.

• Fortified foods and beverages targeting the changing nutritional needs of Baby Boomers

• A focus on perceived ‘natural’ ingredients within foods and beverages

• Further research on personalized nutrition and nutrigenomics with emerging and scientifically supported ingredients are going to make inroads as market demand increases with improved economies worldwide.

Obesity and other health conditions

Obesity is an important health concern for both developed and developing countries. Estimates of the extent of the global obesity crisis are clearly staggering. Approximately 1.6 billion adults in the world are currently overweight, 400 million are

obese and 20 million children under five years old are overweight. This type of information makes you think twice before stopping in at your local fast food restaurant… but as I say to my friends, family and colleagues,moderation is the key to a healthy diet. A person can be said to be overweight if their body weight exceeds a set standard considered to be an ideal body weight. This excess in body weight could be due to an excess of muscle, as seen in bodybuilders and certain other athletes, but is most often due to an excess of stored calories in the form of body fat. Obesity specifically refers to an excess

of body fat and is usually encountered in those who are overweight. A common measure of obesity is called “body mass index” or BMI, which is based on a measure of body weight that has been adjusted for height. In descriptions of BMI distributions in populations, the terms “overweight” and “obese” usually refer to increasing degrees of relative body fatness.

Am I overweight or obese? A simple approximate calculation to estimate your own BMI is to follow  these three steps: (1) multiple your weight, in pounds, by 700, and (2) then divide the product of that calculation by your height, in inches, and (3) then divide the result you got in step 2 by your height in inches once again.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) you are “overweight” if your BMI is between 25 and 29.9 and you are “obese” if your BMI is 30 or greater. If you do fall into one of these categories, you will not be alone, as illustrated by the map below. By the year 2015, 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and 700 million will be obese.

Product formulators may want to consider including nutrients such as chromium, L-carnitine, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), fiber (both soluble and insoluble), and green tea extract to aid in creating a product that addresses weight management.

Issues with weight management can also impact other conditions that are connected to this condition such as type 2 diabetes and blood sugar management and cardiovascular health.          

Baby Boomers

The boom in births during an 18-year period post World War II (1946-1964) created a generation that now represents the largest consumer group. The needs and wants of this large group of consumers represents a significant global market of at least 1.4 billion people and more than 2 billion consumers, if one includes the children in their households. And, the vast majority of the world’s baby boomer generation lives in Asia. In fact, there are more baby boomers in Asia than in all of Europe, North America and South America combined

Among the first things that should come to mind when this age group is considered, is their significant diversity. While this may be obvious in terms of the development of gender specific or regionally and culturally acceptable food products, there are clearly some general nutritional concerns in this group. In adult women, several micronutrients, including Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron are less than optimal. Vitamin A is essential for proper skin and eye health and in the immune response to infection. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that protects us from the damage of free radicals. Vitamin B6 is needed for protein metabolism, red blood cell formation, and antibody production. Calcium is an essential mineral needed for optimal bone metabolism and preventing age-associated bone loss and osteoporosis. Magnesium plays an important role in energy metabolism. Zinc is critical for most biochemical functions in the body and especially for immune defense. Iron is a component of hemoglobin that is the main carrier molecule for oxygen to the tissues of the body. These micronutrient gaps reflect a pattern of weakness in the diet that could be addressed in the development of a targeted fortified food product.

It is also important to consider the separate needs and concerns of the younger boomer (age 40-50 years old) versus the older boomer (aged 51-60 years old). For example, the priority of the young boomer group likely revolves more around their children than the older boomer group. Thus, considerations in marketing to this group might include putting a somewhat greater emphasis on the overall nutritional goodness of certain products for the entire family, as well as the provision of an appealing fortified application that will help to maintain an active healthy lifestyle for the whole family that is always “on the go.” These considerations could take the form of highly portable, individual servings of an energy beverage with taurine, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, or a wellness milk shake with herbal ingredients like echinacea to boost the immune system of everyone in the family.
By contrast, older boomers, while still needing to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, are likely to have more concerns about warding off the particular health concerns of old age, i.e. heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis or eye disease.
‘Natural’ Ingredients
Perception is everything and consumers want foods that sound wholesome and ‘natural’. It is becoming increasingly important to consumers that their products be free of all artificial ingredients, preservatives and trans fats. And it’s not just within the food and beverage sectors. Accord to a recent Datamonitor report, half of consumers (from 15,000 respondents in 20 markets) believe that cosmetics and personal care products containing natural ingredients are healthier than those with a higher proportion of synthetic ingredients.
 
Personalized Foods For Health and Wellness
 
Nutrigenomics is an emerging discipline that includes the application of genetic technology to food and nutrition, on the expression of genes and the influence of the genome on nutrients and the food components. The field of nutritional genomics will enhance both clinical nutrition and public health practices, the dietitians with genetic backgrounds are applying genome-informed nutrient and food based dietary guidelines for disease prevention and healthful aging, disease management and public interventions such as micronutrient fortification and supplementation.
Nutrigenomics encompasses both how nutrition affects gene expression and stability and how genetics affects nutrient utilization. The consumption of food is incredibly complex because food contains hundreds of nutrients and other bioactive compounds in varying amounts and with varying rates of uptake and clearance, plus the hormonal factors that they trigger, changes in body temperature, activity and even production of active substances by intestinal microflora. All of these factors can affect the short term expression of genes that are directly or indirectly involved in health maintenance and disease, and have long term effects on development when present or absent of nutrient causes selective pressure for and against particular genotypes or activates a developmental progression or termination program. In addition, the diet can contain factors that damage or protect the stability of the genome itself.
The goal of nutritional genomics is to understand how diet influences the balance between health and disease during the life span of an organism and its changing needs, such as for maintenance, growth, maturation, pregnancy, aging, stress and disease. It is an underlying assumption that an understanding of these mechanisms will lead to better – even individualized – dietary recommendations for disease prevention and management of chronic disease (with least adverse side effects).
This new field of nutrigenomics is probing the complex interaction between dietary components and genetic codes, yielding insights into the mechanisms which contribute to the balance each individual strikes as they move through their life in a state of health or disease. Nutrient-gene interaction research carried out over several decades has in recent years expanded to include potentially beneficial phytochemicals. Indeed, a new understanding of phytochemicals-gene interactions offers great potential for explaining how diets rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can decrease the risk of chronic, degenerative diseases.
 
Conclusion
 
When it comes to functional food and beverage products, response by mass markets proves that despite interest in eating for better health, the discriminating palate determines repeat purchase. Consumer interpretation of good taste involves many attributes including mouthfeel as well as the experience of bitter sweet, salt, sour, umami (savory) – and smell. This poses many challenges for food formulation worldwide. Not only must manufacturers attend to geo-cultural sensory preferences, but the integration of functional ingredients itself creates consumer acceptance issues by virtue of the nutrients’ individual and interactive flavor notes. Low-calorie foods, fortified and functional foods, reduced fat or reduced sugar foods all have considerable taste, texture and stability challenges that affect the overall consumer taste experience.

 

(FOODREVIEW INDONESIA Edisi Januari 2011)

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