This is according to the annual trends forecast from multinational dairy cooperative FrieslandCampina Ingredients, which draws on consumer insights from Mintel, Euromonitor and FMCG Gurus.
Alt proteins go global
Consumers are actively seeking animal product alternatives, offering a "promising avenue for innovation", particularly within precision fermentation, according to the supplier's report.
The key, it explains, is that these alternatives must match the taste and nutritional quality of their traditional counterparts.
Commenting on the report, Nick Morgan, founder and managing director of the active nutrition insights firm Nutrition Integrated, told NutraIngredients that taste is key in today's world and that "good for an alternative protein" is not good enough.
"Precision fermentation is a fast and exciting area of development," he added. "Innovation here isn’t the challenge; it is the communication of the proposition that is fundamental to success or the timing of commercial take-off. A case of 'innovation by communication'."
MyProtein’s Whey Protein Isolate and Arla’s new clear fermented protein drink are examples of product launches that tap into this precision fermentation trend, plus AminoLabs recently launched a plant protein blend to meet the market demand for an experientially superior plant protein.
Going beyond the gut
The trend report also noted that the connection between physical and mental health has prompted consumers to recognise the gut's impact beyond digestion.
"While consumers may not be overly familiar with the specific phrase 'microbiome', a high proportion of consumers now recognise the link between good digestive health and good overall health," Mike Hughes, head of research and insight at FMCG Gurus tells NutraIngredients.
Morgan adds: “Consumers are showing a subtle shift to the saying ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ and reinterpreting priority to be ‘healthy mind, healthy body.’”
He notes that the biotic supplements brand Heights is “leading the way in products that focus on the mind as well as the body”.
“The gut is increasingly becoming a central governor of health given its impact on so many facets of health,” he asserts.
As example, he referenced Daily Gut from Jerms, a four-in-one powder delivering prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and organic superfoods and vitamins to aid digestion and overall health.
He added that brain health, in general, is going to be a key area of growth in the active nutrition sector, noting: “Brain health is an area where we expect to see innovation from mainstream protein powders. ”
FrieslandCampina points to the important role of nutrition in muscle maintenance and recovery from illness as we age, highlighting the need for high-quality nutrients, like protein, to support muscle maintenance and help us recover from illness.
The report therefore advises companies working within the sports and active nutrition space to consider promoting muscle-boosting ingredients to broader demographics to "support those who need it the most".
"My challenge to the industry, is that ageing well needs to start younger," Morgan commented. "We start to lose function and strength in our fourth decade of life, and the habits and behaviours we instil earlier in life, particularly around exercise and protein, are key. It is almost a case of 'active ageing'."
"However, we found that only 1% of protein 'route to markets’ (RTM) have an ageing positioning, Rituals Protein Daily Shake 50 being one of them."
According to FMCG Gurus’ 2024 forecast, consumers are becoming more aware of their unique nutritional needs.
The data showed that 25% of global consumers reported a lack of available products that cater to their nutritional needs, which presents a substantial opportunity for brands to develop personalised nutritional applications, FrieslandCampina Ingredients suggests.
"In an era of price sensitivity, personalisation is something that will be synonymous with value," Hugues added.
Securing the future sustainably
In its Top Ten Trends for 2024 digest, FMCG Gurus indicates that 48% of consumers have made changes to their diets and lifestyles in the last 12 months to embrace a more sustainable approach.
"Consumers believe the topics of health and sustainability to be interlinked, and if something is good for the earth, it will be seen as good for the individual," Hughes noted. "At the same time, people are concerned about the state of the environment and attribute corporate greed as a key reason for damage to the planet."
According to Euromonitor’s Five Key Trends Shaping the Sustainability Agenda in 2023 report, 47% of consumers doubt brands' environmental claims, and 49% fear greenwashing (Innova, Top Ten Trends 2024).
"Manufacturers should substantiate their sustainability claims with robust, tangible data to ensure long-term business success," FrieslandCampina Ingredients advises.
"We carried out research which showed that only 16% of more than 4,000 active nutrition brands had a dedicated sustainability page," Morgan said of data compiled by Nutrition Integrated. “The key here is that brands/companies need to demonstrate 'insetting' practices vs. 'offsetting' practices, so changing their processes, not just offsetting their emissions.
"Robust data is key to support any sustainability practice; however, does a consumer know what good data looks like? Industry collaboration is going to be important," he added.