According to Eric Pierce, VP of Business Insights at New Hope Network, and Kathryn Peters, EVP of Business Development at SPINS, there are three “power” trends in modern health today, followed by three “plant-inspired” trends, and two “time-honored ingredient” trends.
1. Endocannabinoid System: CBD, hemp, and the endocannabinoid system are driving growth, experimentation, and innovation.
2. Quest for Rest: Consumers seek products to help them be alert and energized, while counterbalancing periods to recharge, relax, and re-energize.
3. Brain Health: Consumers are seeking products to help them optimize cognitive function for peak performance.
Endocannabinoid: Pierce addressed the investment focus of the endocannabinoid systems trend and said when looking at the Nutritional Capital Networks investment data, “According to investors, the endocannabinoid system is literally off the charts…a 350% increase in transactions between 2018 and 2019.”
He also said we can look to online, social and mass media data trends to see what consumers are spending the most time with. According to these sources the power trends include digestive health, healing diets, the quest for rest, and time monitored ingredients, which is a little different than what investment and innovation activity show as the power trends. This, said Piece, indicates that “Consumers might be thinking a little differently than innovators and investors right now. There are suggestions that other trends might be approaching maturity for consumers, that includes healthy fats, optimized diets, and interestingly – and this data does go into 2020 a little bit - the endocannabinoid system.”
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Peters went on to explain that CBD sales (non-THC related products) growth has slowed slightly over the last year, however, still represents currently over $153 million in sales. Said Peters, “Where products including CBDs are showing some weakness overall, there are definitely some bright spots.” As shoppers gravitate to CBD products that leverage the entourage effect, or, combining supplements, Peters said, “For CBDs, their effect may be more pronounced, with whole hemp extracts, as well as other supplements like clove or black pepper, which can boost the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD.” Other areas of innovation include enhanced waters and body care such as lip balm, facial masks, deodorants, and facial lotions.
Quest for Rest: Growth in this area is currently being driven by non-supermarket outlets. Peters said that sleep support products are performing particularly well, up 39% over the last year to $590 million in sales. “Consumers are really looking for a natural remedy to aid their sleep where possible, instead of ongoing exhaustion from sleepless nights or turning to prescriptions,” she said.
Brain Health: Products focused on cognitive health benefits are trending well over 80% growth in recent weeks. Over the last year sales are up 43%, with a total value of $306 million. Multivitamin sales are up 311%. “We also recognize the challenges that the pandemic has created in our lives,” Peters said, “and see continued strength representing sleep-focused products, and mood support. Clearly there's more than just immunity on the minds of today's modern health consumer.”
PLANT INSPIRED TRENDS
1. Plants Elevated: Gone are the days of bland tofu and dense bean burgers. Brands are winning over vegans and flexitarians alike with intense flavor, crunch, and umami tastes.
2. Eat More Plants: From omnivores to vegans, the goal is to incorporate more nutrient-dense plants in the diet. Brands are creatively catering to picky children, adventurous adults seeking the latest exotic plant superstar, and consumers seeking meat and dairy alternatives.
3. Plant Protein: Consumers are seeking clean plant proteins with other nutritional benefits that are more efficient calorie sources from farm to stomach compared to animal-based products.
Plants: Plant-based trends are positioned as a gateway for improved health and well being for the body and the planet. “This has paved the way to a much more inclusive trend,” said Peters, “and you can see high percentage of consumers today choosing some sort of plant-based diet.”
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She added that some non-traditional categories are driving the strongest dollar growth in veggie friendly categories, such as baking ingredients, mixes, and flours, pastas, and soups. “While these are not only categories benefiting from the pandemic in general, and cooking more at home, these are veggie friendly products within these categories that are also thriving as consumers are really seeking new solutions for modern health…We see much more than just the traditional burgers or things of that nature. We see ready-to-drink beverages, and meals and meal components even in center store. This trend is truly covering all the food and beverage aisles.”
TIME- HONORED TRENDS
1. Time Honored Ingredients: Consumers and brands are bringing long lost ancestral ingredients back into the lexicon of nutrition. Ingredients can be rich in culture, history, and nutrients.
2. Sugar Vilified: The industry is fractured on how to deal with the negative turmoil surrounding sugar, and innovation is multi-pronged with low glycemic food-based sweeteners, zero-calorie alternatives, or redefining the sensation of sweet with new flavors and formats.
Time Honored Ingredients: Regarding the use of “ancestral ingredients,” Peters said, “Consumers today are seeking brands that are overall less processed, that are diet aligned, and using ingredients that bring a functional benefit is what they're looking for.”
Sugar: Pierce and Peters said that even prior to the pandemic, consumers have been shifting away from sugars, but with potential COVID severity links to obesity and diabetes, products with substitutes such as monk fruit, stevia, and sugar alcohols are increasingly being sought out.
Pierce and Peters spoke last week as part of the on-going Spark Change virtual event, and cited three areas from which data was compiled for their presentation:
· Innovation activity from the Natural Products Expos: Census of every product exhibited, coded by product attributes; trend coding of all finished goods manufacturers.
· Investment activity from the Nutrition Capital Network database of financial transactions: Database captures all publicly recorded financings and acquisitions; coded by trend according market positioning or reason for transaction.
· Consumer engagement by custom analysis per trend of: Online social and mass media activity; linked to industry and trend key words and topics.
As Pierce said, “We'll see where innovators are placing their bets, where investors are placing their money, and where consumers are spending their time.”