Consumer survey reveals increased interest in functional nutrition

Kerry surveyed 13,000 people in 16 countries with the aim of providing manufacturers insights into the impact of COVID-19 on purchasing behaviours

More than four in ten consumers have increased their purchases of functional foods, beverages and supplements since the start of the pandemic, a global survey by Kerry has found.

The company surveyed 13,000 people in 16 countries with the aim of providing manufacturers insights into the impact of COVID-19 on purchasing behaviours.

Approximately four in ten (44%) of respondents said they had bought more dietary supplements since the outbreak of the pandemic, while 42% had increased purchases of functional or fortified foods and beverages.

Respondents were presented with a list of health areas and asked which were reasons for buying healthy lifestyle products. Globally, 58% chose immune system support, significantly more than the numbers who picked healthy bones and joints, at 46%, while digestive health, heart health and improved energy were chosen by less than 45% of respondents each.

As many as 39% of consumers had used an immune health product over the past six months and a further 30% would consider doing so in future.

John Quilter, Kerry VP of Global Portfolio – ProActive Health, said: “Interest in health and wellness has never been higher and we wanted to give the industry new insights into changing purchasing habits. One of our key findings was the scale of the impact of the pandemic on demand – not just for immune health products, but for functional foods, beverages, and supplements overall. Consumers were adopting increasingly proactive, holistic attitudes to health, wellness and nutrition long before 2020 but the pandemic has massively accelerated this trend.”

The survey also determined the food and beverage categories where immune health is a relevant purchase driver. One in three participants said they would be interested in purchasing fruit and vegetable juices if they contained ingredients that promoted immune support. Other categories seen as a good fit for immune health benefits included spoonable yogurt, dairy-based drinks and hot beverages.

Wellmune, Kerry’s proprietary baker’s yeast beta 1,3/1,6 glucan, is clinically supported to help strengthen the immune system, the company says.

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