Special Edition: VitaFoods South America

Rising health trend in Brazil creates opportunity for supplements, healthy foods, analyst says

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

Rising health trend in Brazil creates opportunity for supplements, healthy foods, analyst says
The demand for health food and dietary supplements in Brazil is being driven by consumer trends in the country, according to recent market research presented by Mintel.  Almost a third of Brazilians who consume healthy products would like to see a wider range of offerings in supermarkets, the research showed.

Nairo Soto, a food and drink analyst at Mintel, presented the research at a session at the recent VitaFoods South America trade show. The research showed the broad penetration the healthy living mindset has made among the country’s consumers. It shows a strong opportunity for products with a sports nutrition positioning and for marketers who are trying to reach consumers with a healthy diet message. Soto said Mintel’s research shows 60% of Brazilians say they are trying to stay in shape via exercise or participating in sports.  Another 41% agreed with the statement “at least half of every meal I eat consists of vegetables.”

Soto said there is untapped market potential in Brazil for companies offering supplements and shelf stable beverage and food products targeting these market trends.  

“The dieting culture in Brazil is changing and consumers are increasingly making healthy food and drink choices, leading them to a healthier lifestyle in the long term. However, compared to other countries such as the US, the Brazilian market has a lot of opportunities yet to be explored, representing a market opportunity for many companies as consumers seeks more healthy choices,”​ Soto told NutraIngredients-USA.

Traceability as an attribute has yet to make a mark

Traceability is a rising issue in the North American marketplace when it comes to food and supplement ingredients.  Consumers, motivated by some degree by high profile influencers such as bloggers and by a media culture that thrives on sensationalist headlines, are all too willing to believe that substandard ingredients have found their way into the products on the shelf.  Therefore, they are increasing demanding that manufacturers be able to show a chain of custody from the ingredients’ origin through to finished product.

Surprisingly, this trend has yet to gain traction in the Brazilian market, Soto said.

Traceability is not often used for the Brazilian market, but the concern with ingredients origin depends on the category consumed and the consumer target. For instance, for parents of children aged 0-3 years old origin is related to food safety, a major concern for them (60% of these parents agree with the statement that ‘I prefer to prepare baby food at home so that I can control what my child is eating.’ The source of ingredients seems to be important for wine consumers in Brazil too, since only 19% of them agree with the statement ‘the grape type (eg Cabernet, Merlot) is more important to me than the country of origin,’ ” ​she said.

Transparency on rise

While the integrity of the supply chain for ingredients is not yet a major driving in the market, Soto said the importance of the transparency with which manufacturers communicate with their consumers about what is in the rise, something that the Brazilian market does share with North America.

Today’s consumers are demanding more transparent messaging from companies and want to know what is in the products they are eating. Companies should communicate their messages clearly, giving details on ingredients and avoid vague explanations. Straight forward messages such as ‘clean label.’ ‘100% natural’ and ‘no preservatives’ tend to stand out. Brands that are transparent about the ingredients used, their origin, manufacturing process and whether or not they have preservatives can be successful,”​ Sato said.

Protein messaging in its infancy

Even though large numbers of Brazilians say they dedicated to working out, the role of protein in products targeting that demographic is still underdeveloped, Soto said. Most Brazilians seem still to view protein as a macro nutrient that is adequately supplied in the diet and not something they need to look for specifically in the ingredient deck on a label.

Animal origin protein are the most known (ie red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk) but due to the growing demand for increased healthiness from Brazilian consumer, some vegetarian sources of protein are becoming more known such as soy protein. In general, the ‘high protein’ claim is not that relevant among Brazilian consumers because most of them don’t know the benefits they get from protein. It seems to be more relevant among people who practice exercises/sports due to the wide range of vitamins and supplements that use that claim,”​ Soto said.

Imported botanical ingredients

It’s unlikely that fruit or vegetable importers would be able to compete effectively with local resources, especially as Brazil, a country with large swaths of arable land lying in the tropics, has year-round growing seasons. But some botanical ingredients of foreign origin have been making inroads in shelf stable products, Soto said.

Due to the gourmet trend, Brazilians are more open to try new foods, and therefore, new ingredients. For instance, fruits such as blueberry and cranberry are being widely used by the industry and foodservice, and are popularly known by their English names even though there are Portuguese words for them (blueberry is mirtilo and cranberry is oxicoco),”​ she said.

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