Global food and drinks launches maintain 'healthy' platform

29 May, 2014

Despite cutbacks in consumer expenditure and problems in some countries with regard to health claims legislation, interest in healthy food and beverage options appears to be continuing unabated.

Nearly 40 per cent of the global food and drinks launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in 2013 were positioned on a health platform of some kind, mainly in terms of so-called "passive" benefits, such as low and light products, but also increasingly on an "active" health platform. This relates to promoting added health benefits, such as vitamin fortification or the use of probiotics, as well as more specific benefits, such as gut health.

Passive and active health positioning

While products marketed on a passive health positioning accounted for over 35 per cent of global launches recorded, those promoting active benefits accounted for just 9 per cent of the total. The overlap indicates that some products were marketed featuring both types of benefit.

Globally, dairy launches accounted for the largest number of health claims, ahead of soft drinks, with bakery products in third place. The penetration of health claims is much higher in the first two of these categories, however, with 61 per cent of soft drinks launches and 60 per cent of dairy launches using claims in 2013, compared with just 31 per cent of bakery introductions.

Probiotic claims

"The initial functional foods on the European market were probiotic yogurts," according to Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights, "but their market position has been complicated by the ongoing refusal of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to approve probiotic health claims."

The number of products marketed specifically on a "probiotic" platform continued to grow globally until 2012, peaking at a share of about 0.7 per cent of total global food and drinks launches in that year. In 2013, this share fell back to less than 0.5 per cent. Within dairy, products marketed on a specific probiotic platform accounted for 3 per cent of global launches in 2013, down from 5 per cent in 2012, although a much more significant 16 per cent used a more general digestive or gut health positioning of some kind.

The rise of Greek and Greek-style strained yogurts, which are inherently higher in protein than standard products, has also paved the way for a new area of interest – yogurts marketed on a high-protein platform. Although most of these are also probiotic, some companies are now diverting attention away from digestive health toward nutrient content.