Consumer Trends for New Product Success

With worries about depleted incomes and higher health care costs, many people are turning to functional foods to help them stay healthy. Today’s well-informed consumers better understand the link between certain foods and optimal health.

In a speech presented at Prepared Foods’ 2009 R&D Applications Seminar-Chicago, Greg Stephens, vice-president, strategic consulting, National Marketing Institute (NMI), explained an aging American population is very interested in supplements for health, as there are “emerging and growing conditions that are not defined by traditional medicine...Baby Boomers want to retain control of their health.” Other concerns spurring this interest include more easily accessible health information (e.g., via websites); a concern over the safety and side effects of prescription medications; a new respect for alternative therapies; and rising health care costs in a struggling economy.

According NMI’s 2009 Healthy Aging Boomer Database (HAB)®, 80% of respondents said they are interested in new approaches to managing their health. Some 77% are very concerned about their personal health and are actively managing it, while about 50% said they are always looking for new self-care methods to prolong their health and vitality.

The NMI segments consumers into five major groups, all featured in its 2009 Health & Wellness Trends Database; these are primary grocery shoppers in NMI-defined consumer segments.
* The Eat, Drink and Be Merrys™ (22%) focus on taste, are price-sensitive and know they should eat healthier, but do not.
* The Fence Sitters™ (17%) are neutral on most health issues and choose products based on brand image and price.
* The Magic Bullets™ (24%) have a high belief in and usage of supplements for health.
* The Food Actives™ (18%) desire a balance of diet, exercise and nutrition and like natural foods and supplements for health.
* The Well Beings™ (19%) make health a priority and utilize foods, supplements and health care services to achieve this. They prefer natural and organic foods and have strong environmental values. Well Beings are prevention-oriented and value fortified and functional foods; price is not a priority. They are trend predictors and influencers, as well as environmental stewards (green, organic, local).

Being green and respecting the environment is becoming a priority for many consumers. According to NMI, some 15% of American adults agree with this statement: “I completely/somewhat agree that I would be willing to pay 20% more for products made in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way.”

NMI has also categorized the food traits certain consumer segments value. For example, among other things, Baby Boomers most fear being a burden to family, losing mental capacity and mobility; they also are concerned about heart health. Manufacturers targeting that audience would do well to tailor their products to address those concerns. Generally, it is vitally important consumers be educated enough to understand the benefits of certain ingredients, said Stephens, and he urged manufacturers to act as guides and educators in this cause. Also, he said, claim messaging needs to be relevant and resonate with the target.

As part of another continuing trend, consumers are demanding simpler, cleaner food labels. NMI’s 2009 Healthy Aging Boomer Database also identified ingredients consumers want less of in their foods, when compared to 20 years ago. In the first tier, the most important to them: saturated fat and fat, cholesterol, trans fats and sodium; in the second tier: pesticides, sugar, calories and MSG; in the third tier: preservatives, HFCS, hormones/antibiotics and carbohydrates.
“Using the Latest Consumer Trends for New Product Development Success,” Greg Stephens, vice president-strategic consulting, Natural Marketing Institute,,
--Julia M. Gallo-Torres, Managing Editor

The Promise of Probiotics
Probiotics are microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. The current trend is for probiotics to be contained in yogurt, milk, baby food, supplements, cottage cheese, natural cheese and frozen yogurt. In 2008, total sales of probiotic products were approximately $20 billion. This compares to global sales of organic products at $24 billion. In the U.S., there is still much room for growth, especially in yogurt, as other countries consume more per capita than Americans.

Devon Durkee, technical account manager, Ganeden Biotech Inc., in his 2009 R&D Applications Seminar presentation titled, “Probiotic Trends and Applications,” explained, “Research into the health benefits of probiotics is on the rise, as the number of published scientific articles on the subject has gone from [virtually] zero to over 700, from 1994-2006. Consumer awareness is also on the rise, as 58% of consumers recognize the relationship between probiotics and maintaining a healthy digestive system in 2007, according to IFIC.”

Durkee explained that common probiotic strains include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces cerevisia, and some species of Streptoccus, Enteroccus and Eschericia. Some species of sporeformer probiotics are advantageous in some applications. These include the newly emerging probiotics Bacillus, Sporolactobacillus and Brevibacillus. The most research has been done on Bacillus, including B. claussi, B. coagulans and B. subtilis.

Most of the health benefits found from probiotic consumption involve the digestive system and diarrhea (e.g., antibiotic associated diarrhea and otherwise), lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases (including Crohn’s disease and colitis). Effects of probiotics on feminine health, dental caries, blood pressure and blood lipid profile are also being researched.

“Research on irritable bowel syndrome indicated abdominal pain and bloating scores at weeks 2-8 were significantly improved (P <0.01) over the baseline for a group taking B. coagulans,” reported Durkee. This randomized, double-blind trial was implemented using 44 subjects with an average age of 48 who took either B. coagulans or a placebo once daily for eight weeks. Self-assessments of symptom severity were recorded every day during the study. No treatment-related adverse events were reported.

Another study conducted on 10 subjects, with an average age of 44, taking B. coagulans once daily for 30 days, showed significantly increased TNF-a (tumor necrosis factor-alpha, a pro-inflammatory cytokine and mediator in aspects of immunity) upon exposure to adenovirus (P=0.027) and influenza A H3N2 (P= 0.004). (Baron, M.  2009. Postgrad. Med. 121: 114-118.)

When formulating with probiotics, Durkee advised to keep in mind the following: safety of the bacterial strain, storage and handling of the probiotic, ease of use in formulation, survivability of processing conditions, survivability through digestion, effective dosage for health benefits, cleaning/sanitation considerations, shelflife of the probiotic, cost and claims. Several commonly used probiotics work well in refrigerated applications or supplements, but cannot handle the processing or storage length common in shelf-stable foods. Here, sporeformers have an advantage outside the dairy case, since they survive processing and digestion and remain viable during the shelflife of the product.

Viability is important, because probiotics must make it to the intestines to exert health benefits. It was found that only 0.1% of the cells in a leading brand of refrigerated, yogurt-based probiotic survive the gastric environment vs. up to 78% of the cells of a proprietary B. coagulans strain, which survive to colonize the gut. Applications for spore-forming probiotics include hot or cold cereals, baked goods, confectionery products, dry soups, drink mixes, meal replacement products, snack bars, dairy products or any other refrigerated products, sports nutrition powders and bars, supplements, pet supplements and foods, and topical applications.
“Bugs in Your Food: Probiotic Trends and Applications,” Devon Durkee, Ph.D., technical account manager, Ganeden Biotech Inc.,
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Balanced Formulations with Galacto-oligosaccharides
Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) can have a beneficial sensory impact on food, but also help reduce energy intake and assist with weight management and satiety.

Over 57 research studies clearly show the health benefits of GOS, including stimulation of the growth of the prebiotic Bifidobacteria; improvement of calcium absorption; relief of constipation; and support of natural defenses. There is emerging evidence as to their ability to provide satiety, stated Hans Zijlstra, manager R&D application development, FieslandCampina Domo, in his presentation, “Balanced Formulations with Galacto-oligosaccharides,” given at the 2009 R&D Applications Seminar-Chicago. Functional benefits are its heat and acid stability during full shelflife; its neutral, slightly sweet taste profile; creamy mouthfeel; low sandiness in dairy products; and bulking effect. It has an excellent digestive tolerance at 15-20g per day, a low caloric value of 2Kcal/g and a low glycemic index. In granola bars, it is added as clear syrup, providing easy handling and simple processing and acts as a surfactant with high solubility. In yogurt, it increases sweetness and enhances creaminess.

Compared with other prebiotics, GOS are less “rough,” sticky or chalky, yet sweeter and creamier. Trials in orange juice show they provide a preferred flavor profile, enhancing fresh fruit flavors, such as fresh orange peel, and masking oxidation notes, said Zijlstra.

Reduced-fat and -sugar products can be enhanced with GOS, without any adverse effects. Beverages with added GOS can have reduced high-fructose corn syrup, balancing sweetness with sucralose. In a reduced-sugar juice drink, for example, adding 5g GOS syrup adds 2.5g GOS per 240ml serving, allowing for a reduction in HFCS and calories. Rules of thumb for sugar reduction are to replace sugar and HFCS with combinations of GOS and artificial sweeteners.

Studies show increased feelings of satiety with GOS. “The proposed mechanism,” explained Zijlstra, “is that galacto-oligosaccharides increase short-chain fatty acid production by Bifidobacteria, increasing satiety hormones, increasing satiety and, thus, decreasing calorie intake.”

In summary, GOS are of dairy-based origin, enzymatically produced and naturally occurring in human breast milk. Known as a highly effective prebiotic with clear health benefits, they also have excellent functional benefits, positively impacting sweetness and creaminess in a variety of reduced-sugar products. The satiety effect and sugar-reduction ability can contribute to weight management. NS
“Balanced Formulations with Galacto-oligosaccharides,” Hans Zijlstra, manager R&D application development, Fries¬landCampina Domo,
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor