The trends of functional foods and how probiotics can be the ultimate wellness solution

Over the last two years, we have seen consumer interest in functional foods steadily increase. The COVID-19 pandemic has only added fuel to that flame with people seeking out products with multiple health benefits — immunity support and overall wellness being at the top of the list. According to a 2021 Ipsos/NZMP Consumer Research study, 88% of American consumers feel that it’s important to manage their health now to prevent experiencing health issues later. While probiotics have been at the forefront of the functional space for several years to address digestive health, scientists are learning more about how probiotics are a solution for our overall wellness and mental health. NZMP’s probiotic strains, LactoB HN001™ and BifidoB HN019™, offer clinically proven supplement solutions and are ready to be applied to desirable food and drink options for consumers.

The pandemic has opened the public’s eyes, and people around the world are now considering the effects that their choice of food and drink has on their long-term health. Over half of consumers are focusing on ingredient lists when making purchase decisions and choosing food and drinks that are fortified with nutrients, according to the Ipsos/NZMP Consumer Research study. Immunity has gone from a seasonal concern to a top priority for consumers year-around, so choosing foods with various health benefits is now of great importance to them. People are looking to enhance their body’s natural defenses and turning to food as their medicine. But don’t discount taste — consumers want products that go above and beyond in that department, too.

The health of our gut microbiome is vital to our overall health, both physically and mentally. Through it’s interconnected and complex relationships with the nervous system (i.e. gut brain access), as well as blood and other organs, gut health can impact immunity, mental health, inflammation, nutrient absorption, and even our weight. The walls of our digestive system serve as a barrier, preventing undesirable pathogens or toxins in our gut from entering the bloodstream and other tissues. The brain and gut send signals back and forth all day long through a system called the brain-gut-microbiota axis. Particular probiotics help to maintain the integrity of the gut and preserve its daily functions.

American consumers are understanding that managing their digestive health is an important aspect of their overall wellbeing. According to FMCG Gurus Global Digestive Health report in 2016, 60% of global consumers recognize this association and are looking to improve their gut health for the benefit of their long-term health and immunity support. Probiotics are synonymous with digestive health and overall wellness, but they’re also increasingly perceived to impact immunity and mental health, according to a 2018 Consumer Probiotics Survey conducted by FMCG Gurus.

Adding probiotics to a product addresses several of consumers’ trending functional demands. For three decades, NZMP has been researching two particular probiotic strains — LactoB HN001™ and BifidoB HN019™. These probiotic strains have also demonstrated clinical benefits in supporting gut integrity and nutrient absorption and may assist with infections and reducing inflammation.

Isolated from the microbial cultures used in manufacturing yogurt and cheese, LactoB HN001™ and BifidoB HN019™ are Non-GMO Project Verified and dairy-free. With food and beverage application knowledge in their DNA, NZMP has a deep understanding of how the probiotics will interact in different formulations. The strains are a logical fit for a wide range of food and drink applications, including ready-to-mix powdered beverages, supplements, chocolates, coated protein or snack bars, yogurts, ice-creams, cheeses, fresh or high-pressure pasteurized juices, or fermented milk drinks. “Market trends tell us that consumers are increasingly seeking more health benefits from their food and with more than 90% of probiotic products making health claims in the US, it makes sense to add probiotics into food or beverage formats, which can be carriers for various health-boosting ingredients,” says Victoria Lam, Senior Marketing Manager Sports & Active Lifestyle at NZMP.

If you represent a brand that strives to evolve with trends and meet market demand, now is the time to take a close look at your product portfolio and identify items that could offer functional ingredients, such as probiotics, to consumers. NZMP continues to explore additional health areas and synergies of their probiotics with their wider portfolio to meet the evolving demands of consumers and enter new spaces in the market. Learn, adapt, evolve, and communicate – NZMP has a broad range of health and wellness solutions to help ensure your brand stays relevant.