Consumers wanting to be healthy is hardly a new trend; at a macro level, the desire to eat in a way that allows us to be healthier, “better” versions of ourselves has been around for generations…but if we dive a layer below into what lies beneath, the picture of what it means to be healthy looks significantly different to how it did even 5 years ago. At this year’s Food & Drink Trends & Innovation Conference, “health” came up time and time again as one of the biggest consumer drivers, but not as we’ve come to know it…

The narrative of the 80s, 90s and even early noughties, which focussed around restriction and reduction, has flipped to messages about addition: good fats, functional ingredients, protein, superfoods…the list goes on. And where we were getting used to generic, one-size-fits-all diet programmes from Atkins to Paleo, up are springing a new wave of personalised options to make us healthier whether that’s meal plans or tailored vitamins through the post.

Similarly, the benefits we’re trying to achieve through making these changes have morphed as well. Whereas “skinny” used to be the end game, Kyrsten Halley, Head of Brand at Ryvita, noted the importance now of “mood food” and eating for our mental as well as physical health with 73% of consumers acknowledging that what they eat affects their mental wellbeing. From kombucha to tackle depression via the microbiome, to teas that boost our mood, health is no longer reserved for the external body.

Another shift which stood out time and time again through presentations was the movement away from viewing health as just about good for “me and my body”, and towards also needing to be good for the planet. Consumers are increasingly recognising that if a product isn’t good for the well-being of the world, it may also not be great for their own well-being. Truly healthy products and brands are those that benefit both.

And finally, a key take out across nearly all the presentations: health may be important, but not at the expense of taste. The truly winning products are those that deliver on the above, whilst still offering a great taste experience…after all, who really wants to compromise?

BY ENGINEER Susannah Cohen

susannah.cohen@thevalueengineers.com