As consumers become more aware of the environmental and health implications of their eating habits, consumption of plant-based foods is moving to new heights. This onward trend allows the creative juices of food manufacturers to flow, in a bustling sector ripe for further growth and innovation. New taste sensations are also fuelling interest in the fruit and vegetable sector. Meanwhile, natural ingredients with antioxidant and immunity-boosting credentials are gaining further traction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Maren Döbl, Product Manager at Austria Juice, active nutrition, taste experiences, mindful consumption and premium by nature, are the top driving forces behind fruit and vegetable applications.
Health and well-being are high on the global value hierarchy of consumers. People are looking for holistic solutions that support them in changing their lifestyle,” she explains. Health is one of the most important topics for consumers. Berries with antioxidant properties and immune system supporting ingredients will play a key role over the coming months, Döbl stresses, noting prevalence in elderberry, blueberry and also haskap berries.
Meanwhile, Bastian Hörmann, Director Product Management Food at ADM Nutrition, says that fruit and vegetables associated with comfort are expected to take the lead as consumers justify indulgent treats as part of their self-care.
“Today’s wellness ideals are characterized by thoughtful, measured pleasure, not by self-restraint. Ashwagandha is an example of an ingredient that is currently meeting consumer demand for relaxation and will arguably drive innovation in the F&B sector,” he explains. “Maca and moringa are also trending as consumers look for more variety in energy-boosting snacks and beverages.”
With the trend for more mindful consumption growing, consumers are paying closer attention to how food and beverages contribute to their health, well-being and mood. Because of this, snacking has seen a real shift, says Hörmann. “The concept of elevated snacking has emerged thanks to the availability of premium options and the prevalence of these products in consumers’ lives.”
Healthy snacking is seen as an essential part of our lives, which can meet the need for nourishment and pleasure. Fruit and vegetable ingredients will play a crucial role in fulfilling this demand, according to Hörmann.
“When it comes to flavors, colors, proteins and other specialty ingredients derived from nature, it is important to keep food science and supply chains in mind, along with an understanding of formulation challenges and consumer needs,” he asserts.