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Immune Health Trends

Health and wellness trends continue to drive growth in the functional food and beverage industry, consumers are increasingly choosing foods with added nutritional value for them to meet their health goals. Delve into this blog to understand the shift in consumer trends and the importance of scientifically validating your health product to ensure its entry to market is successful.

Immune Health Trends

The Functional Food & Beverage Report 2020 from the Hartman Group found immunity and general prevention to be the most prominent reasons for consumer use of functional foods, supplements and functional beverages. Furthermore, mood, energy, and digestive health are among the most common health benefits people seek from foods and beverages.

It has been found that 41% of Americans eat food with added functional benefits and 47% take dietary supplements/vitamins (1) (Kerry Health and Nutrition Institute, 2020). Therefore, adding new functional benefits to foods or beverages with science-supported ingredients is of utmost importance. Examples include adding science-supported probiotics to foods like snack bars for digestive or immune support or adding botanical ingredients to a beverage to enhance mood, given that over a quarter (26%) of US consumers take a probiotic supplement, of whom 67% take them for a healthy gut/microbiome (Mintel, 2018).

Key Considerations

  • Balancing consumer beliefs, science, and regulations is a major challenge in proactive health
  • Functional ingredient dosage matters – be sure to include them in amounts shown to have a benefit in scientific studies
  • Immunity, mood, cognition, weight management, and energy are top-of-mind in 2021

What are the immunity trends?

Food and beverages with digestive functional benefits have grown 16% and those with immunity benefits have grown 9% in the last four years. Product launches with added functionality claims have grown 19% in the past four years as innovators introduce health remedies with functional additives into the modern food supply (Mintel New Product Launches Analysis, 2014-18).

Immunity was top-of-mind throughout 2020 and will continue to be in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a lot of questions around how the immune system works and how to support it with nutrition. According to a 2020 study by Innova Market Insights, 54% of global consumers say they have spent time educating themselves on ingredients that can support immune health. With many questions around immunity, it can be easy to come across misinformation, illustrating the true power of scientifically validated health products among modern consumers.

Global Immunity Product Trends

The global immunity supplement market was 18.22b dollars in 2020 (Fortune Business Insider), the unprecedented arrival of Covid-19 shocked demand for many products, but not immune health supplements, it is estimated this global market experienced a growth of 11.6% in 2020. Immune boosting products such vitamins, herbal extracts, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids are experiencing the strongest demand. Of global products launched between 2014 and 2019 with an immune system claim, 58 percent contained vitamins and 48 percent contained minerals. The top vitamins for immune system support used in these: foods, beverages, and supplements were vitamins C, D, and B6, while zinc was the top mineral. Interestingly, consumer perceptions of products that improve the immune system differs across continents. In North America, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and zinc are the top choices, whereas in Europe, Asia Pacific, and Africa, iron is most frequently associated with improved immune health (FMCG).

Insights from our experts:

“We now know bacteria have very important roles in normal physiology… Lack of diversity tends to lead to frailty in the elderly. Poor diet is undoubtedly the main contributory factor, the really significant one, to an unhealthy microbiota”
“The general consensus is that fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut have health benefits. To have a truly good microbiota, we should be consuming prebiotics”
“It goes without saying, if someone takes multiple courses of antibiotics, it can wipe out the microbiota and have a very negative effect”.

-Ted Dinan


Hartman Group, Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements 2020

The Bord Bia Functional Food and Beverage Innovation Playbook- 2019

irene-cisma / About Author