We have been observing for over a year how health, wellbeing, and protection have become the main axis for the brands and the consumers and how this influences on the innovation of the food supplement industry.
The consumers’ priority is taking care of their wellbeing, and this has stimulated the growth of the vitamins, minerals and food supplements sector.
The most innovating products launched over the past year have focused on immunity, mental health, as well as natural and organic products. This category goes even further and not only innovates on formulas but also on new formats such as: topicals, aerosols, capsules and teas.
Which trends are inspiring innovation in the food supplement industry in Europe?
1- The organic claims keep growing
For now, the organic claims are not the consumers’ priority, but this is changing along with the growing awareness about climate change.
The brands can especially focus on the concerns regarding plastic waste and explore the use of alternative materials or rechargeable concepts.
The organic innovations can also exploit the rising interest for natural formulas (perceived as safer), include organic certifications on the package, address younger consumers who tend to be more committed with organic and ethical products.
2- The brands focus on minimizing the packages’ environmental impact
We can find on the market products with a natural origin that produce no waste and can be composted, and products with a refill concept, that combine glass bottles and refillable bags.
3- The organic, vegan, and natural innovations aim to be more transparent and with an ethical mentality
The prevailing natural formulas, often vegan and organic, stand out for being more transparent over the ingredients and the practices of the supply chain, and for being more ethical.
Some brands work on trust through collaboration, for example reinvesting a part of their earnings in sustainable initiatives, and through vegan, organic and ethical formulas.
4- Emphasize on a support space for the agitated immune systems
The demand for vitamins, minerals and food supplements that support immunology, that appeared for the first time when the COVID-19 crisis began in March 2020, keeps being an inspiration for innovation in food supplements.
As a matter of fact, a constant interest for nutrients that support the immune system, such as vitamins C, D, and zinc, is expected.
Vitamin D will especially keep being popular, given the deficiencies prior to the pandemic, and the widely positive media coverage about its benefits.
The brands can differentiate in this increasingly competitive space when they:
- Link the immunological support to the intestinal health or microbiome
- Target the most vulnerable groups
- Collaborate with immunity-focused food or beauty innovations and concepts
The following chart shows how launches of products with functional immune system claims have grown. They have represented 30% of the new launches in the past year.
5- Functional immunology formulas promote popular natural ingredients
6- The beauty products significantly exploit the probiotics benefits that reinforce the immune system and the skin
The probiotics beauty products have appeared and exploit a greater understanding of how important a healthy intestinal microbiota is for digestive health, as well as for skin health and the immune system. Digestive health is a strong trend influencing the development of innovations in food supplements.
7- The innovations are starting to benefit from the major focus on emotional and mental wellbeing
In the United Kingdom, more than 20% of the young people aged 16 to 44 take supplements to improve their emotional state or to fight stress, but the innovation in this area is still limited.
The innovations can work around the full consideration that stress and lack of sleep have an harmful impact, not only on physical and mental wellbeing, but also on appearance and skin health.
The innovations are resorting to soothing natural ingredients, or some that help sleeping, such as adaptogens, nervine and CBD, that still have a large margin for growth.
The brands can also reach the consumers through the social media and gaming platforms, providing health and wellbeing advice.
What concepts and formats are inspiring innovation in the food supplements category in Europe?
1- A bet on more disruptive formats
The formats of capsules and tablets are leading the innovation in food supplements on the European market, probably because they are easy to use and to carry.
The formats that look like food and beverage (for example, powders, liquids, snacks) can expand if they establish themselves as less medicinal.
The topical formats can also appear, bring differentiation, and attract those who find it hard to swallow capsules or tablets, or people with digestive troubles.
In the following chart, we can observe how the capsules and tablets are dominant on the market.
However, the capsules launches have peaked in the last five years, and the more traditional tablets formats have decreased.
2- The most disruptive formats are dissolved in hot beverage and chewing gums
Capsules, teas and chewing gums are among the newest formats to be found on the market.
As an example on the market, a brand of functional water has launched a natural formula capsule to give support to the immune system.
Another brand on the market promotes the appropriate virtues of chewing gum, and emphasizes on how their products are biodegradable, since the gum they use is 100% natural (and without any plastic) and comes from refined tree sap.
3- Spraying formats
Another rising innovative format is a liquid aerosol with direct absorption. Given its easy format, users might need to be very aware while using it to avoid an overdose.
4- Topical or uneaten formats
These formats are currently insignificant, but they can expand, mingle with skincare and beauty, and attract those who have troubles taking food supplements orally or who have digestive problems.
Innovation in food supplements in the topic or uneaten formats can mainly be seen in those aimed for athletes.
One example is a brand that launched a sports gel to promote a faster recovery and help treating injuries.
5- Personalisation of food supplements
The demand for tailor-made vitamins, minerals and food supplements is boosting innovation.
The personalized formulas are increasingly precise and sound, as they look beyond the online evaluation surveys.
One source of inspiration could be a German brand specialized in personalized health and nutrition, that uses people’s saliva samples to detect areas of health impairment.
Source: Mintel GNPD