Q&A: Formulating for the Health-Conscious Consumer

September 2020

Innovation in the functional food and beverage category is being driven by consumer demand for more personalized dietary solutions that provide specific health benefits, such as boosting immunity, supporting digestive health, or increasing energy levels.

Fruits, vegetables, botanicals, and other natural ingredients also continue to play a key role in new product development, as consumers increasingly seek out healthier and clean-label ingredients. Data from Innova Market Insights1 finds that a third of new sports nutrition product launches in 2019 carried clean label claims, compared to 20% in 2015.

Kathy De La Bastide, Group R&D Manager at Chaucer Foods, explains how freeze-dried fruits and vegetables can help product developers innovate against these trends and take advantage of new opportunities in the functional food and beverage market.

1. What trends are you seeing in the market for functional food, drink and supplements?

Consumers are increasingly looking for products that will help them meet their personal health and wellness goals, whether it’s getting more protein in their diet, increasing energy levels throughout the day, or relieving stress. For example, a growing number of consumers are becoming more interested in digestive health and products that can help them regulate their gut microbiome. Prebiotics, which are found in many plant-based foods, and probiotics, which are found in fermented food and drinks like yogurt and kombucha, are seeing a huge surge in consumer recognition and popularity. We also continue to see consumer preference shift toward more plant-based and clean-label ingredients.

2. What impact has COVID-19 had on the nutrition and supplements market?

Many consumers are becoming more interested in their immune health as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and are looking for food and beverage products that support strong immune function. The focus on immunity has driven renewed interest in plant-based ingredients, such as herbal extracts, fruits, and vegetables, which are natural sources of immunity-boosting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants

How can product developers innovate against these trends?

Product developers can respond to these trends by incorporating more fruits, vegetables and other plant-based ingredients into their formulations. Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are a valuable ingredient for functional foods and beverages because the freeze-drying process not only preserves the shape, color and flavor of fruit and vegetables, it also helps retain key nutrients. This allows product developers to add authentic nutrition, as well as natural colors and flavors, to functional food and drink products. With no added sugars, artificial preservatives or carriers, freeze-dried ingredients also align with consumers’ desire for clean-label ingredients.

4. How can freeze-dried fruits and vegetables be used in functional food, beverage and supplement applications?

Available in a wide variety of formats, from slices and pieces to whole food powders and purées, freeze-dried fruit and vegetables are extremely versatile ingredients for functional food and drink applications. Powders and pieces can be blended in nutritional shakes and meal replacements or added to powdered drinks, RTD teas, and nutrition bars for fortification, natural clean label flavor and color. Freeze-dried powders can also be used in supplement applications, added to capsules, gummies, tablets and soft-gel recipes.

5. What are you currently working on in terms of new health and nutrition applications?

Our new freeze-dried smoothies made from fruit purées are ideal for the functional food and drink market. Freeze-dried smoothies can be customized to meet any application need and fortified with probiotics, prebiotics, vitamins and minerals to support additional nutritional claims. They can also incorporate extra ingredients for added texture, such as superfoods like matcha and spirulina, oats or chia seeds, or even a product of your own. Moreover, they can also be eaten by themselves as great tasting on-the-go snacks.

We are also working on a new range of high value powders made from superfoods, including freeze-dried ginger, turmeric, sweet potato, acai, blueberry, cranberry, and a variety of mushrooms, such cremini, shiitake, portabella, and white.

Whether you are working on something new or reformulating to meet new guidelines, our team can work with you to find a solution that adds value. Learn more about how freeze-dried fruits and vegetables can be used in functional food and drinks, or contact us today at customerservices@chaucerfoods.com

1. “More Consumers Want Foods and Drinks with Functional, Better-For-You Benefits,” Prepared Foods. July 13, 2020.

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