With the COVID-19 pandemic reinforcing the importance of health and wellness amongst consumers worldwide, there’s never been a better time for the foodservice industry to focus on nutrition and immune-supporting ingredients as part of their offering

The future of nutrition
A recent conference hosted by Kerry Taste & Nutrition looked at how nutrition is changing the game in foodservice and inspiring innovation on menus globally. As part of the event, Kerry Taste & Nutrition unveiled new pan European research, which revealed that eight out of 10 (81 per cent) of those seeking to change their diet believe that foodservice operators have a responsibility to improve nutrition on their menus.

Kerry Taste & Nutrition’s pan European research, ‘Nutrition In Foodservice: Unlocking opportunities in a changing consumer landscape’, looks into consumer attitudes, needs, trends and behaviors towards nutrition when eating out of home. The research focused specifically on the transparency of food sourcing, sugar reduction, the importance of maintaining signature taste profiles and how this impacts operators. In addition, new and emerging health trends and the importance of language when conveying healthy options to consumers were also examined.

Key highlights of the research include:

  • Consumers get real – consumers are increasingly looking for food and drink options that are more natural, more nutritious and more environmentally sustainable with 35 per cent considering natural ingredients/ flavors the most important nutritional claim at lunch and dinner. Respondents also said that there are demands for ‘cleaner’ cooking methods with steaming, poaching and baking preferred over frying.
  • Transparency needs – across all seven markets researched, 6 out of 10 respondents confirmed they’d like to see more nutritional information such as calorie content, fat content and sugar content displayed on foodservice menus.
  • Hold the sugar – 43 per cent of foodservice customers are interested in or following a reduced sugar trend, and increasingly searching for beverages with low sugar (57 per cent) or no added sugar (53 per cent) attributes. Interestingly, 41 per cent see real fruit as a key beverage health attribute. This strongly suggests that real fruit as a sweetener is something operators could be making more of.
  • Finding balance – 81 per cent of those seeking to change their diet believe foodservice operators have a responsibility to improve nutrition on their menus. The foodservice industry must respond to this overwhelming market demand. While nutrition is an emerging trend, taste still remains key as the most sought-after need. Many are seeking out smarter ways to indulge for example one in three (38 per cent) look for natural claims when purchasing ice cream.
  • Mind matters – consumers are increasingly focusing on holistic wellbeing. This involves considering and nourishing all human elements – mind, body and spirit; 32 per cent of people cite mental wellbeing as a key reason to change their diet.

Immunity & nutrition
Global research conducted on behalf of Kerry Taste & Nutrition in June 2019 looked into consumer awareness and attitudes towards healthy lifestyle ingredients in fortified foods, beverages and supplements. The research revealed that in Europe, consumers ranked immune system support as the most important reason for purchasing healthy lifestyle products. What’s more, according to consumer research carried out by FMCG Gurus in 2019, half of consumers had looked to improve their immune system over the preceding 12-month period. It’s worth remembering that this research was conducted prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, Mintel research released in March this year revealed that 66 per cent of consumers were very or extremely worried about the impact of the pandemic on their lifestyle.

Elaine Druhan, Foodservice Marketing Manager at Kerry Taste & Nutrition, comments: “Given that immune health was already a high priority for consumers prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we believe that there is a real opportunity for foodservice to learn from this growing trend and in turn be able to evolve to meet consumers’ growing nutritional expectations.”

An adequate and balanced supply of nutrients is essential for a healthy, functioning immune system. Additionally, the effectiveness of the immune system can be directly impacted by what we eat and drink. As consumers take a more proactive approach to supporting their immune health in the wake of Covid-19, introducing immune health boosting ingredients on foodservice menus – especially in the form of immunity-boosting beverages – could unlock opportunities. Trust is key, with consumers seeking ingredients with proven health benefits, backed by science, which are familiar and offer reassurance.

Beverage represents a natural starting place and the most realistic category with dairy-based drinks, plant-based alternatives and juice drinks offering the most active categories already featuring immunity claims. Kerry Taste & Nutrition’s research found that 68 per cent of European consumers are interested in consuming food with immunity-boosting benefits at breakfast while 36 per cent say they’d like such a drink as a mid-morning snack and 38 per cent would prefer it mid-afternoon. Providing these beverages on menus will give curious consumers and functional beverage converts another place to find beverages with immune health ingredients.

Beverages that can effectively communicate how their products support immune health are predicted to flourish in the ‘New Norm’. Using simple, functional descriptors, such 7as vitality, boost, defence, immunity and detox amongst others, can help to showcase natural immunity-boosting ingredients, highlighting the benefits of fortification for consumers and help to make menus less complex.

Elaine Druhan, Foodservice Marketing Manager at Kerry Taste & Nutrition, concludes: “Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, people were eating out more frequently than ever before and demanding healthy options that don’t compromise on taste. And, the foodservice industry is constantly being challenged by public health bodies to address this demand with nutritional improvements to menus.

“Our purpose at Kerry is to inspire food and nourish life and as one of the world’s leading taste & nutrition companies, this is a major focus for us. By sharing these insights into nutrition, immunity and consumer demands and behavior, we’re pleased to be able to help our customers understand these growing trends and in turn be able to evolve their businesses to meet consumers’ growing nutritional expectations.”

Kerry, the Taste & Nutrition company, offers solutions that nourish lives all over the world. From humble beginnings as an Irish dairy co-operative, Kerry has grown into a large international food industry leader, with offices in 32 countries, 147 manufacturing facilities and an employer to over 26,000 people globally, including over 900 food scientists.
www.Kerry.com
https://explore.kerry.com/immunity_in_foodservice_on_demand_webinar.html