Consumers seek out foods with additional benefits to help fuel their lifestyles

Consumer demand grows for healthier food and drink options that fuel both body and mind

23 Jan 2023

5 min

#Global #Insights #Cultured and Beverages #Protein #Nutrition

With 73% of consumers planning to follow a healthy diet, brands should be searching for new ways to appeal to a range of dynamic consumer health needs to capitalise on the shift in consumer behaviour. One key aspect of health that we are seeing growth in consumer demand is that of fuel benefits. Fuel benefits relate to the quick energy boost, sustained energy, and satiety that consumers are seeking from their food. By  focussing on the fuel benefits of a product, brands can provide consumers with a solution that energises and nourishes body and mind.

With consumers using health and nutrition as a valuable tool to help power them through work, home and lifestyle activities, brands need to be promoting energising ingredients and their fuel-related nutrition & health claims. Already, we are seeing brands dialling up their protein content to attract health-conscious consumers and product launches for yoghurt and beverages are on the rise with solutions designed to be filling, nutritious and convenient (Mintel, A year of innovation in yogurt, 2022).

The power of protein

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the day-to-day importance of protein. Protein stimulates feelings of fullness (satiety) and helps repair muscle tissue. The well-established protein trend continues to be viewed as especially healthy, and this is likely to continue to be the case (Euromonitor, World Market for Dairy Product & Alternatives).

Despite being a natural source of protein, many dairy consumers specifically seek milk and yoghurt products that are deemed to be high in protein (Mintel, Dial up Protein Cues in Dairy Alternatives, 2022). Brands can dial up the fuel benefits of protein such as sustained energy and satiety to appeal to these consumers.

Woman at a picnic with a bottle of milk

Sustained energy

The reduced blood glucose effect of protein can be classified as reducing the glycemic index of the meal, making it a low GI, slow-release energy food. 23% of users that consume yoghurt drinks, drink them to get an energy boost. High protein yoghurts, yoghurt drinks and milk drinks are well-placed to capitalise on the demand for snacks that provide long-lasting energy, given protein’s perceived benefits in this area (Mintel, Yogurt and yogurt drinks - UK, 2021).

A quick energy boost

Brands should focus on the convenience factor for those consumers wanting a quick energy boost. Caffeinated, single serve, ready-to-drink beverages (such as iced coffee) are becoming more popular with vitamin/mineral fortification also offering potential in this space. Fortification with ingredients such as vitamin C or magnesium, will help boost their appeal as a morning or afternoon ‘pick me up’. This may be especially attractive to people who are working/studying, their breaks being an important occasion for snack food brands to target (Mintel, Yogurt and Yogurt Drinks, UK, 2021).

Beverages and cultured well-positioned for growth within the energy category

Positioning small sized yoghurt tubes and pouches as a quick and convenient means of achieving daily nutritional fuel requirements is a way to tap into this market of consumers wanting on-the-go solutions. Growth opportunities for yoghurt drinks are also particularly high because they are portable, utensil-free, and resemble the classic post-workout protein drink.

Protein blends and dairy should prove successful in categories like nutrition drinks (such as high protein milks), where protein and fuel are important to consumers. Another category where protein is key is nutrition drinks (such as meal replacements) where, for example, 64% of US consumers agree high protein is important. In nutrition drinks and similar products (protein-focused sports drinks and weight loss drinks, for example) brands can consider communication around protein quality as well as quantity.

Brands have a chance to refresh their messaging on the inherent benefits of drinks, like the calcium and protein in milk to remind consumers of the value that already exists in these beverages. Value is built on more than price, which is good news for the often high-priced functional drinks. Price matters, but is considered alongside health benefits, versatility, quality of ingredients, and package size. Functional beverage brands must continue to prioritise messaging that reminds consumers of the nutritional quality that their products bring, using value as the backbone of messaging during inflationary times (Mintel, Functional Drinks - US - 2022 - Market Value Indicators).

Smiling couple running at the beach up a hill

Naturally sweet

In order to appeal to the new generation of health-conscious consumers, brands can highlight natural sources from which sugar, calories and fats are derived, position product attributes in a positive light (such as sugar as energy, or calories as fuel) or focus on other the positive attributes (for example protein or vitamins and minerals) as a way to counteract any less desirable aspects.

Delivering on fuel insights

Leveraging consumer interest in healthy fuel, NZMP continues to develop a range of market-leading, functional beverage and cultured concepts. Our Beverages and Cultured team have created a framework to deliver the benefits consumers are seeking in order for your brand to develop products with our ingredients that target these needs.

Take a look at the product concepts on our beverages or cultured pages for some exciting ideas and inspiration on how you can leverage the emerging trends in this growing category.

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