In a year where the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted our susceptibility to worldwide viruses, our immunity has never been more top of mind.
In fact, a growing trend towards immunity-boosting foods and drinks in future products has been highlighted in the latest Mintel research and insights.
Mintel, the expert in what consumers want and why, found that consumers are actively looking for food and drinks that naturally improve immune function.
The research found 35 % of US consumers were motivated to purchase a nutrition or meal replacement drink that supported immune health.
Michelle Teodoro, Associate Director, Food Science, Mintel APAC, said the increase in demand for immunity-enhancing food and drink products created new opportunities for manufacturers to develop innovative products.
“In the 12 months from April 2019 to March 2020, immunity improving functional claims were most prominent in baby foods, dairy and juice drinks,” Teodoro said.
“There has also been a growth in patent filing for food and drink products that support immune health among the elderly.”
The research found botanicals (40%) were the most frequent ingredients cited in food and drink patents to support immune health, followed by probiotics (35%), fermented extracts (8%), prebiotics and algae/fungi (6%), insect (3%) and vitamins/minerals (2%).
The association between the immune system and gut health is another growth area, with new products including everything from probiotic immunity shots to yoghurt drinks with a blend of probiotics, vitamins and minerals.
Natural ingredients to improve immunity are also on the rise, with 21% of US consumers seeking out dietary fiber content on nutrition labels of products.
“There is a return back to the basics – of relying on botanicals and grains to bolster immune function,” Teodoro said.
“From ginger and cinnamon extract to help improve intestinal health and enhance immunity, to the use of black rice bran extract powder in the manufacture of health functional food for immunity, a growing number of brands are seeking out natural enhancement.”
When it comes to the next big thing in the field of immunity, watch out for fermented herbal extracts such as fermented leek plant extract and Bacilus-fermented ginger extract, and even products containing algae.