Coming off the heels of IFT in Chicago last week, one (of many) thing is certain: business is booming in better-for-you.
It is hard to count the number of impressive innovations that were on display spanning the entire food value chain. From new ingredients and processing techniques to improved packaging and even agricultural practices, the food and beverage industry is going all in on improving nutrition.
Despite this excitement, companies across the space have to acknowledge that the better-for-you category is not the same as it was even a few short years ago.
In the past, the primary approach was very much about reduction; reduced sugar, reduced salt, reduced fat, etc. While this and other avenues, like fortification, continue to make up a considerable portion of the market, consumers are redefining their expectations of them.
The reality is that post-pandemic, nearly everyone is looking for something that makes them feel better about themselves, and the formula for success is no longer about simple addition or subtraction but rather balance.
A balance of nutrition can address consumers’ specific goals and lifestyles without sacrificing quality or taste.
Edlong Global VP of R&D, Dr Bernd Koehler, puts it this way, “We don’t have to make every food a health food, but we should try to make everything healthier.”
As companies continue to develop revolutionary new products to meet these growing demands, innovation also needs to come in how we approach our role towards improving consumers’ lives through food.
This will have to come through understanding what consumers really want and how collaboration is the only way to get it to them.
The New Better-for-You: Balanced Nutrition
Why do I stress the importance of balance?
In Innova’s Lifestyle & Attitudes Survey 2022, global consumers were asked how they would categorise their predominant approach to healthy eating; the results in the chart below explain it all.
While reducing “bad” products/ingredients (global average 26.4%) and choosing products that positively boost nutrition or benefit body functions (global average 27%) are seen as equally important, consumers are clearly taking a more holistic and balanced view.
Recently, when covering my Top Tradeshow Takeaways, I mentioned how consumers are now actively seeking products that can impact their health and well-being. What that looks like will depend on your consumers.
They may be looking for “cleaner labels” that have less of the bad while preserving the good or specific functional benefits like gut health, boosting immunity, etc. Regardless of what it is, they know what they want and why they want it.
The truth is that consumers are savvier and more educated than ever before about your products, but they only know what we give them. Especially when it comes to the value and benefits new ingredients, and products can provide.
With that said, getting the information to them is only one part of how we should approach our changing role in this market.
As the market shifts, the industry’s responsibility is simple: empower consumers to improve the quality of their lives with healthier food and beverage options, that is, without them having to struggle and sacrifice either nutrition or taste.
New ingredients and technologies are great and necessary, but they are only as good as what you can do with them; they aren’t magic bullets.
You can’t be one-dimensionally focused on your ingredients because an ingredient itself isn’t food; it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
You have to translate it into something people can get excited about, and that’s where flavour comes in.
At Edlong, we aim to ensure that the foods utilising our flavours taste as good as possible. This isn’t just because that’s what we do but because, in this new, better-for-you paradigm, it facilitates an opportunity for consumers to do better themselves.
When they have nutritious and beneficial products that also taste incredible, it is so much easier for them to feel confident and like they’re taking health and wellness into their own hands.
Still, while flavour can unlock the potential power of your innovations, without meaningful collaboration, it, too, is only an ingredient.
I’ll say it again; it’s about balance.
Every time you are formulating something in the better-for-you area, there are so many things you have to think about. If you take down salt, your available water changes, which means your shelf life changes. Do you have to change how, where it’s stored? What if you implement your new processing techniques or change your packaging?
Not letting this opportunity go to waste requires collaboration with the right partners.
Collaborators who can see your innovations from a bird’s eye view to understand the strengths, weaknesses and what it will take to get it over the finish line.
This deliberate collaboration is how we move the space and each other foward.
In fact, through cooperation with our partners, customers, flavourists and applications team we created an enitrely new range of maskers designed to address the real and urgent needs facing developers in this space.
Together we can create a better tasting better for you market, that above all, helps consumers do better for themselves and their health.
Looking for a partner to unlock the potential of your better-for-you innovations? Contact our global team of expertstoday to get started.
About the Author: Anne Marie Butler, Edlong Global Director of Strategy and Innovation
I help food stakeholders from startups to CPGs solve complex flavor problems and accelerate innovation within the food space. Through my 15+ years of experience, I’ve gained skills as a food technologist, thought partner, and leader. My clients and team appreciate my collaborative, humanistic approach to problem solving. In an increasingly tech-centric world, I think that human connection is the source of innovation. Through my work, I’ve realized how important it is to be more proactive about inviting stakeholders into conversations around flavor innovation. I’m not working alone, and I don’t want to be thinking alone either.