In 1820, the average life expectancy in the world was in the mid-20s, according to Angus Maddison and Donald Johnston, authors of The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective (2001). In 1900, worldwide life expectancy increased to only about 30 years but has since lengthened considerably--to the mid-60s as knowledge in obtaining steady sources of food and effective medical treatments grows.

While scientists still cry, “Eureka!” on serendipitous discoveries, an abrupt leap forward in scientific insights is rare. Instead, advances in technical knowledge and the ability to apply that information for human benefit occur through diligent gathering of information.

For the food and nutritional products industries, several opportunities to gather information (ranging from new ideas to concrete ways to develop and market) present themselves in November 2004.

Health Ingredients Europe

The third annual Health Ingredients Europe (Hi Europe) show will be held November 16-18 in Amsterdam. A variety of seminars provide an update on developments in areas such as:

  • Weight management
  • Vitamin enrichment in drinks
  • Yogurt trends, and
  • Bakery (the new battlefield for health).

    For example, Camilla Palmer, Reuters Business Insights (London), will discuss interviews with various food companies on the topic of obesity and the importance of addressing this issue with healthy products.

    Another track looks at product trends in the area of beverage enrichment. A presentation by David Jago, director of GNPD Consulting Services, Mintel International (London) will highlight innovative new product launches and discuss the types of products that may be seen in the future.

    “In the period January 2002 to June 2004, vitamin- and mineral-fortified food and drink products accounted for just 6% of all food and beverage new product introductions in Europe,” says Jago. “However, this equates to nearly 4,000 products and is significantly more important in some sectors. A similar pattern is seen in North America, while the trend towards enrichment is more apparent in the Asia Pacific region,” he says.

    In regards to beverages, fortified soft drink introductions grew significantly in 2002 to 2003. “The current situation is that launches of new fortified soft drinks are down slightly in Asia Pacific and static in Europe, but continue to grow in North America,” Jago adds.

    Other presenters will include Steven Harrison, Ph.D., juice business director, Group Europe, Eurasian and Middle East for Coca-Cola; and Leendert Wesdorp, director of business development, foods research center for Unilever.

    Additionally, an array of pavilions will be present such as one on organic products and services.

    Interest in organic products is worldwide. The European organic market is increasing at a rate of some 15-20%, primarily in higher-added value products, note show organizers. This growth mirrors some estimates for the U.S. A Mintel report (Chicago) notes that the U.S. market for organic foods grew from $2.9 billion in 2001 to $5.3 billion in 2004, an 80.5% increase in the three-year period. (See Website Resources at the end for more information on HI Europe.)


    An international conference and pre-conference symposium on nutraceuticals and functional foods will also take place from November 7 to 10 in San Francisco.

    The pre-conference focuses on “Functional and Specialty Beverages: Market, Regulations, Processing, Formulation and Health Benefits.” Pre-conference presentations will be made by nearly 20 speakers including Ian Newton, Ceres Consulting, Canada, who will speak on “Alliances in Functional Food and Beverage Industry in North America and Europe” and Anthony Almada, co-founder EAS/chief scientific officer, IMAGINutrition Inc. (Laguna Nigel, Calif.), who will discuss the integration of science and food technology in functional beverages.

    For the conference itself, over 200 presentations will cover topics from fundamental research to applied science to market trends. For example, Prepared Foods editor, Claudia O'Donnell, will speak on “Global Trends in Functional Foods and Dietary Supplements.”

    Healthfocus International's latest survey shows that from Europe to the Far East to the Americas, “cancer” is one of the top three consumer health concerns. In O'Donnell's analysis of data derived from Mintel's Global New Products Database, of the new products introduced since 1998 worldwide that claim cancer health benefits, 38% were in the beverage category, 26% fell into the healthcare category (generally dietary supplements) and 11% in the dairy category.

    Innovative products from large companies include Kraft Foods' (Glenview, Ill.) Post Shredded Wheat introduced to China in mid-2001 with the front label claim “Rich in whole wheat to reduce risk of heart disease and certain cancers.” Sara Lee Superior Coffee (Bensenville, Ill.) takes a more typical and subtle approach with its Pickwick Green Tea bags for foodservice introduced in 1999; as it notes in supporting material, “Green tea is a very hot item with consumers, since it has been proven to fight heart disease and cancer.” This year, new green tea products from Malaysia to Hungary were introduced with similar claims.

    (Again, see Website Resources at the end for more information.)