COVID-19 Drives Prioritization of Immune Health

09 December 2020 – In Tune with Immune is one of Innova Market Insights’ Top Trends for 2021, reflecting how immunity and health has become top of mind for consumers, with ongoing anxieties over COVID-19 continuing to be a key focus for next year and beyond.

“Ongoing anxiety stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to push consumers toward prioritizing their immune health,” according to Lu Ann Williams, Global Insights Director at Innova Market Insights. “Immunity boosting ingredients will play a significant role for the coming year”, she reports, “while research and interest in the role of the microbiome and personalized nutrition as ways to strengthen immunity will accelerate”.

According to Innova’s Consumer Survey 2020, six out of ten global consumers are increasingly looking for food and beverage products that support their immune health, with one in three saying that concerns about immune health increased in 2020 over 2019.

Innova’s research also indicated that 54% of global consumers claimed to have spent time educating themselves on ingredients and procedures that could boost their immune health in the wake of concerns over COVID-19. When asked which elements would be most important to achieve, immune health, choosing foods naturally high in nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) featured in the top three. Also prominent was getting enough sleep and being physically healthy. There is an associated increase in interest in botanical ingredients in particular.

As might perhaps be expected in the light of this, the use of immune health positioning for food and drinks is also rising, with 1.65% of global launches over the first ten months of 2020 using this type of claim, up from just 1% five years previously.

Rising numbers of launches in a wide range of food and beverage categories are focusing on the use of terms such as immune health, immune boosting, immunity support, etc. These feature across a wide range of different types of product, led by baby & toddler products (particularly milks and formulas), ahead of sports nutrition (particularly sports powders) and dairy products (particularly drinking yogurt/fermented beverages).

The link is also increasingly being made between probiotics/prebiotics, digestive/ gut health and immune support. Consumer awareness of the benefits of probiotics is still gaining traction, with its relationship to gut health and a strong immune system increasingly being made.

Prebiotics have generally been slower to establish themselves in the consumer consciousness; although they have been around for many years, it is only relatively recently that they have started to move into the mainstream. Innova Market Insights reports a 20% global growth for food and beverage launches with prebiotics in 2018 over 2017 and a further rise of over 13% for 2019. Often used in combination with probiotics, prebiotics are featuring across a range of food and drinks launches, led by baby & toddler products, ahead of soft drinks and dairy products.

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