Q&A: Boosting Immunity with Functional Ingredients

March 2022

Utilizing the idea of “food as medicine” allows producers to harness the superfood qualities of natural fruits and vegetables within foods and beverages so that consumers can achieve their nutrition goals in a tasty and convenient way.

We spoke with Aurélie Jacquet, EMEA NPD Manager at Chaucer Foods, to learn more about what consumers are looking for with food and beverage claims, and to dive in-depth on the innovation process with these functional products.

Q: What are consumers looking for in products that fit within the functionality & immunity trend?

A: Consumers are looking for food and beverage products that will help them stay on track to get the right essential nutrients. Whether it be from snacking, beverages or supplements, global consumers are looking for a convenient product that satisfies their nutrition goals. Products that promote numerous health claims—but still taste good—are seen as an easy way to receive the benefits. Consumers are increasingly interested in convenient ready-to-drink or ready-to-eat offerings to “grab and go” so that they can continue on with their life without the need to worry if they are receiving their daily nutrition.
Q: Research found that 42% of consumers purchase functional products during the pandemic. That being said, how do you think COVID-19 has affected consumer interest in products that offer functionality & immunity?
A: Over the past two years consumers have grown to care more about what is on their plate. Many are educated and understand the ingredients on their plate, including what health benefits the ingredients offer. Consumers are demanding that their food and beverage offerings provide more health benefits. More than ever before, we are noticing our own consumers now inquire about functional ingredients and products for their formulations. We noted this increase in interest for functional, immune-boosting ingredients, and created a new line of functional smoothie melts to innovate future product formulations.
Q: What specific health benefits, such as eye health or bone health, are consumers looking for with functional and immune-boosting claims?
A: We are noticing a growing consumer interest in products that hold mental and digestive health claims. During a time filled with the unknown, consumers began searching for a product that can help reduce stress and help them sleep. Many consumers are drawn to products that incorporate claims to boost ones’ mood with natural ingredient-based calming and stress relief benefits. Consumers are also looking for simple foods and beverages that claim to boost energy levels with the superfood ingredient qualities.

With the growth of global consumer interests in gut health, consumers are looking for products that can ease digestive concerns. Many attribute a healthy gut to a healthy mind, tying in the importance for a supported digestive system with the help of functional and nutritious all-natural ingredients.

Q: How are functionality and immunity trends shaping the food and beverage industry?

A: Besides the demand for innovative new products, functionality and immunity claims are pushing for clear producer to consumer communication. Concise and communicative marketing is key for these new products. For full transparency and understanding, the packaging must include the claims, and how the ingredients benefit them. With the demand for benefits and ingredient transparency, we are seeing consumers look for the proof of what we’re claiming to believe it is true. For example, if a producer says that turmeric helps with digestion, they must back-up claims by listing the proof on the packaging and marketing materials for full consumer approval.

Q: What challenges still exist within the food and beverage space related to functionality and immunity? How is Chaucer working to address these challenges? How can business leaders adjust current growth/operational strategies for 2022 and beyond to proactively address these potential challenges
A: Differences in regulation is one of the biggest challenges facing the functionality and immunity trend. Nutrient guidelines for foods and beverages is not the same as the standards set for supplements, causing an ongoing lack of streamlined consistency. Different countries or regions around the world have their own guidelines for ingredient regulations, making it a challenge to produce a product that is suitable for each location.
No matter whether the consumer is looking for a plant-based alternative, to achieve nutrient goals, or to receive convenient nourishment, products innovated to be functional and immune-boosting are on the rise. Freeze-dried fruit is 100% natural and contain no added sugar. Unlike ingredients dried using other methods, freeze-dried ingredients retain their original nutrients, color, shape and flavor – attributes that are increasingly important to today’s clean label and health-focused consumer. Freeze-dried ingredient pieces and powders quickly infuse in hot or cold liquid, and are ideal for adding natural color and flavor to immune-enhancement beverages.

Our New Product Development teams here at Chaucer work with regulatory groups on a consistent basis to be sure of what they can or cannot use as an ingredient. The team also carefully selects and combines the ingredients together so that the final product will lead to an enjoyable snack experience.

A successful business leader must not only understand what customers want, but prepare for potential challenges that come from shifting demands. Two years ago when the immune-boosting trend began to gain momentum, we noted potential technological challenges that we would run into, and made the changes to our technology proactively. Remaining flexible allowed Chaucer Foods to be well prepared for this functionality and immunity demand to take off as it is today.

Ready to learn more about Chaucer Foods’ functional and immune-boosting ingredients and how you can deliver convenient yet healthy options to customers? Contact us at customer.services@chaucerfoods.com to connect with our team.

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