Health and wellness is no longer an emerging consumer trend, but a way of the future for food manufacturers, said Givaudan.
More and more, new ingredients that come to the market are promoted for having less salt, less sugar or a higher fiber intake, as consumers become increasingly concerned about what is going in there mouths.
But the demand for healthy yet indulgent products shows no signs of subsiding. At the recent Givaudan Chef's Council, held in Barcelona this month to discover the flavors of the future, Buzz Baughard, vice president of global food service, told FoodNavigator-USA: "Health and wellness is now a requirement for manufacturers."
He explained that this comes not only from the growing consumer demand but regulators, who are pushing for voluntary reformulation. It has become clear to the industry that companies have to take their own actions to improve the nutritional profile of their products in their own time.
The fear is that unless they self-regulate, government regulators will force them to do so.
This creates clear opportunities for ingredients companies, to provide healthy products for manufacturers to use in their finished products.
Givaudan health and wellness research
The international flavors and fragrances company invests 10 per cent of its annual sales into its R&D program. In its flavors division, health and wellness is a particular focus.
Givaudan is putting its attention to salt reduction, sugar removal and fat elimination without compromising taste and texture.
Salt has been the focus of the company's TasteSolutions programme. Rather than removing salt altogether, Givaudan has been working on tasteless substances that enhance the impression of salt and has made progress in the development of biochemically generated building blocks that can increase the perception of saltiness.
This allows for food products with up to 40 to 50 percent lower salt content, which the company says has the same sensory qualities as those with higher salt contents.
Similarly, the company focuses on the partial removal of sugar with retention of the initial sweetness perception while masking the negative attributes of artificial sweeteners.
A Datamonitor survey found that 65 per cent of Europeans and Americans made active attempts to eat healthier in 2005-2006. This demand is reflected by manufacturers as salt, sugar, and fat reduction have been evermore important across the industry.
Better-for-you launches have experienced a dramatic increase. According to Mintel's Global New Products Database, there were 17 percent more better-for-you products launched in the US in 2007 than in 2005.
For example, there were 187 low, no or reduced fat bakery products launched in the US in 2007, up from 143 in 2005. In fact, most new bread and bread product launches over the past two years (2005-2007) have been positioned in the health and wellness category.
Similarly, there were 36 such soup products launched in 2007 in the US, and 27 in 2006, and there have been 1,333 new functional foods and beverages launched here over the past five years.