Rising Interest in Immune Health Influenced by Focus on Healthy Lifestyles
In the wake of the global pandemic, interest in wellness seems to have permanently deepened, a continuation of a shift toward healthier lifestyles that was already underway. FMCG Gurus reports that in some regions, nearly 80% of us have become more conscious of our overall health over the last year. The report adds that nearly three-quarters of consumers have made changes to their diets and lifestyles in pursuit of greater immune health. Interest in healthy lifestyle practices and nutrition to support immune health is especially prevalent across social media. And with the growth of new products claiming immune support on the market, being a discerning consumer of foods and beverages with immune health benefits can be difficult.
Immune health: here to stay.
As the world focuses on both aspirational and preventative health, functional products are playing an increasingly larger role in helping meet health goals—and we’re turning to foods, beverages, and supplements with immune health benefits to do so. Leading indicators for 2021 and beyond note that awareness of the need to support immune health has become part of the fabric of everyday life. As noted by Euromonitor, as many as 75% of consumers now say they are interested in functional products that support immune health. What’s more, as reported by the recent FMCG Gurus study, 42% of people say they have adopted a long-term approach to health over the last several years.
We talked to several bloggers with whom we’ve worked on what they see as the key distinction among products touting immune health benefits. All of our bloggers note that they seek out foods, beverages and supplements that offer healthy lifestyle benefits. And nearly every conversation we’ve had notes the importance of verifiable claims for immune health products to help provide product differentiation and simplify choice.
Ones to watch: yeast beta glucans.
While it’s true that the pandemic has highlighted questions around how the immune system works and how to support it with nutrition, long-standing research has identified a key ingredient clinically proven to help support immune health: yeast beta glucans. And this message is resonating in the global functional food and beverage markets. Kerry’s Health and Nutrition Institute has cited foods and beverages formulated with yeast beta glucans for immune health as one of its top 10 trends for 2021. Additionally, interest in supplements for immune health are on the rise as well.
Similarly, a report from MarketsandMarkets notes that the market for beta glucans is growing at a CAGR of 7.6% to reach USD $628.3 million by 2026., driven by growing demand for products with verifiable immune health benefits. When choosing an immune health product, reassurance over safety, effectiveness, and credibility of claims is paramount, as expressed by our bloggers.
Clarifying benefits with research support.
Market growth has resulted in a wide variety of products claiming immune support. And consumers are increasingly concerned with validating the benefits on offer. A recent survey found that half (49%) of global consumers now want
more information about the nutritional value of products, while Kerry research has shown that many now make purchase decisions by looking for ingredients they recognize, or that are supported by scientific data.
Maureen Fitzgerald, of Wisconsin Mommy notes the unique ability of yeast beta glucans, like Wellmune®, Kerry’s branded immune health ingredient, to prime the immune system to help provide more healthy days. Yeast beta glucans can help the immune system perform better with substances that function as immunomodulators, which help support immune function by regulating the immune system’s response. Adds blogger Angela Campos, of Marathons and Motivation “yeast beta glucans are a next-level wellness practice,” supported by research on safety and efficacy.
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Healthy choices: products with immune health benefits.
Along with rising interest in protecting immune health is surging demand for foods and beverages that feature yeast beta glucans to provide this benefit. Interest is also high in products with benefits complementary to support for immune health, like, sports nutrition and energy maintenance. As consumers continue to recognize the potential of yeast beta glucans, products that combine yeast beta glucans for immune health with support for other benefits are leading to market growth.
Recent examples of beverage launches include nutritional products like For Goodness Shakes® Immunity Super Shot.
As well, a beverage enhancer that provides multiple benefits in liquid form, Vital Proteins Vitality™ Immune Booster, combines collagen and other beneficial ingredients with Wellmune for immune support.
Highlighting surging demand for foods and beverages formulated with yeast beta glucans, blogger Laura Funk, of We Got the Funk, says, “I am purposefully choosing products that include Wellmune, a yeast beta glucan that supports immune health.”
Bringing immune health benefits to functional beverages.
Wellmune can be incorporated into a wide variety functional products. Wellmune’s flexibility makes it well-suited for beverage applications, including RTDs, powdered sachets, dairy-based drinks, juices, smoothies, enhanced waters and sports and energy drinks. Backed by more than a dozen clinical studies demonstrating safety and efficacy, it provides consumers with a clear point of reference when browsing shelves, delivering on transparency and building trust.
Fortifying functional foods and beverages with Wellmune is a proven way that manufacturers can substantiate the immune health benefits of the functional foods, beverages and supplements currently trending with consumers. As Maureen Fitzgerald observes, “there’s a lot of science to back Wellmune up, so it’s more than just a fad.”