F&B health and wellness innovations around the world

Source: Kayleigh Rattle, Freelance Journalist

18 March 2019

From plant-based egg substitutes to probiotic granolas, health-conscious innovations are being designed internationally in response to changing consumer demands.

Increasingly, customers are looking for natural alternatives to processed products, and for offerings that are both economically and environmentally aware.

Here, we look at some of the key health-focused food and beverage developments making waves around the world.

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Plant-based protein

A recent survey conducted by Neilson (January 2019) revealed that 39% of Americans now skip meat protein on a daily basis (and even during the Superbowl) in favour of plant-based alternatives. Loma Linda is one such brand offering replacement proteins; on top of plant-based chorizo and ‘chick’n’, it has just introduced a vegan tuna – ‘tuno’ – to the market.

Pro for probiotics
Another key area that’s rich in development is probiotics. While probiotics (live yeasts and cultures) typically come in the form of refrigerated food supplements or yoghurts, wellness brands are increasingly incorporating them into day-to-day products such as nut butters, soups, and cereal bars. Purely Elizabeth, the brainchild of holistic nutritionist Elizabeth Stein, is now using probiotics in its granolas and cereal bars. The brand’s Chocolate Sea Salt Probiotic and Vanilla Almond Butter Probiotic versions both contain GanedenBC30, a new strain of probiotics which can survive high temperatures. Multinational Kellogg’s has recently launched Happy Inside, a range of pre- and probiotic added cereals which, combined with the cereal’s high level of fibre, is said to support happy gut health. Indeed, Whole Foods predicts probiotics will be one of the biggest trends of 2019.

Dairy-free alternatives
One of the brands paving the way is JUST, whose team consists of chefs, food biologists, and scientists. JUST aims to make healthy, sustainable food affordable and accessible to everyone: think egg-free mayo and a plant-based egg substitute.


Sodium slowdown
According to Mintel, customers in China are consuming significantly less salt, MSG and soy sauce on a day-to-day basis. In fact, it’s thought that Chinese MSG sales peaked in 2013, but have been in steady decline since (Euromonitor). There has also been an increasing demand for additive-free products in this market, as well as cleaner and simpler labeling. It’s a trend that’s been observed across the board, with Mintel observing that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the effects of surplus salt and MSG in their bodies.


Mad for matcha
Matcha, a concentrated form of green tea which is packed with antioxidants and ultimately lauded for its health benefits, is fast becoming one of the ingredients du jour. While in Japan the ingredient dates back hundreds of years, outside of Japan it’s in ascendance and the fastest growing area of the global tea market. Confirming the western adoption of this ancient ingredient, KitKat has brought its matcha KitKat to the UK, fifteen years after it first went on sale in Japan. Starbucks’ matcha green tea lattes and frappucinos are also loved across markets.


Gluten-free Vegemite
An increase in coeliac disease diagnosis and heightened gluten-sensitivity in consumers has resulted in a rise in demand for gluten-free and free-from offerings. So much so, Vegemite – a spread made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract – has just launched a gluten-free version, endorsed by Coeliac Australia.


Vegan steaks
While the UK may have overtaken Germany in 2019 when it comes to vegan NPD, Rügenwalder Mühle’s newly-launched vegan steaks, vegan chicken filets, and cold cuts is another example of a meat company making vegan-friendly foods. In fact, it’s predicted that 30% of Rügenwalder Mühle’s business this year will come from meatless produce.


Kombucha in cans
In line with consumer demands for ‘healthier’ energy drinks, Willy’s ACV has created a canned energy drink containing two popular gut-loving properties: apple cider vinegar and kombucha. The farm’s apple cider vinegar is blended with green tea kombucha, water, apple juice, and ginger and is designed to cleanse and hydrate, and deliver a natural energy boost.


Dairy delight
The largest producer of dairy products in Scandinavia, Arla Foods, has been busy taking dairy to new heights in recent years with the launch of protein-rich foods such as Skyr. This Icelandic-style fat-free fermented yoghurt is high in protein and low in sugar and is becoming increasingly popular outside of the Nordics, too.

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