By Cara Kennedy, Director of Marketing

We can all agree that the events of 2020 will have a massive influence on consumer’s interests and buying habits well into the New Year and beyond. Now, more than ever, consumers understand that maintaining a healthy gut is reflective of overall health.1 The ‘microbiome’, which has gained popularity over the last decade, even more so during the COVID-19 outbreak, has been named a top trend on everyone’s 2021 prediction list. But the microbiome is arguably one of the largest and most complex organs of the body. It is much more important than just a trend; it’s the foundation of all innovation moving forward.

So, how are you going to take action within the microbiome space?

Here’s our list of some hot segments to consider for your microbiome strategy:

Personalized Nutrition

According to ADM research, nearly one third of consumers purchase items tailored for their health, with a majority wanting products that naturally contain beneficial ingredients.2 The demand for “tailored to fit” reflects consumer’s desires for products that match their lifestyle, beliefs and specific health needs.3 The microbiome is the epitome of personalization, representing a ‘new organ system’ with the greatest between-individual variability of any part of the human body. Companies like Viome and Floré by Sun Genomics have taken personalization to the next level with at-home microbiome testing kits that provide tailored supplementation regimes. But the tip here is if your personalized nutrition strategy lacks microbiome testing, it isn’t truly personalized.

Functional Fiber

Fiber is getting a makeover and is becoming the star ingredient in dietary supplements and functional food and beverages. Beyond just dietary fiber, functional fibers, like prebiotic resistant starch, can help boost fiber content but also improve texture, mouthfeel, reduce sugar and fat and, most importantly, support the microbiome.4 Although not a traditional vehicle you may think to consume fiber, products like OWYN and Orgain meal replacement shakes are doing a bang-up job at providing added fiber in beverages. With 95% of Americans not having adequate fiber intake, a fiber-enriched food and beverage development strategy will help bridge this gap.5 But remember, it’s about choosing the right science-supported functional fibers as part of total dietary fiber that will make the biggest difference for the microbiome.

Hydration

Hydration is essential for the gut microbiome to keep systems of the body functioning. Dehydration, which can cause fatigue, loss of focus and often constipation, affects 75% of Americans.6,7 Not your average tall glass of water, Cure Hydration brings an Oral Rehydration System (ORS) formulation to sports drinks and Karma Wellness Water with innovative technology to get valuable immunity-boosting nutrients like antioxidants and probiotics into bottled water, provides designer hydration solutions. While soluble fibers can improve constipation by moving water into the digestive tract, this contradicts the hydrating effect of such products. Formulating with an insoluble fiber like resistant starch, which has no effect on water movement, will ensure optimal hydration while providing microbiome support for relief of constipation.

Upcycled Ingredients

You may wonder what ‘upcycled’ has to do with a microbiome strategy? By way of upcycling co-products from food manufacturing, many nutrient-dense ingredients are created, some of which are high fiber and prebiotic. Leaders of the Upcycled Food pack are ReGrained with their snack foods made from prebiotic SuperGrain+® and Pulp Pantry with their grain-free veggie chips. New research from the Upcycled Food Association has revealed that 60% of consumers want to buy more upcycled food products, validating that demand exists and this trend has staying power.8 Wasted food is wasted nutrients the microbiome could be utilizing.

Brand Transparency

Globally, six out of ten consumers are interested in learning more about where foods come from,9 putting the onus on brands to shape up or ship out. A recent consumer study by Ingredient Transparency Center (ITC) confirmed that the strongest signals of brand transparency include a quality seal, ingredient supplier info, substantiated claims and country of origin on a product label.10 Greater brand integrity is not a new trend. Consumers have demanded for decades shorter and cleaner ingredients lists with quality ingredients that they know and can pronounce. Emerging certifications like Glyphosate Residue Free are helping to move the needle for transparent product labeling standards. Other ways to instill trust with consumers is with healthcare professionals formulated products like Nexty Digestive Health Finalist: Amy Myers MD Leaky Gut Revive. The gut is incredibly sensitive, and even small variables can have large, unintended impacts. That’s why brand transparency and research-supported ingredients are vital for your microbiome strategy.

Better-For-You Snacking

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 88% of adults snack more or the same, with the number one driver being comfort.11 Comfort equals relaxation, which can boost mood and provide a feeling of reward.12 Simple pleasures to get through hard times. But snacking does not have to be unhealthy. Products like Uplift Gut Happy Cookies and Living Intentions Activated Superfood Cereal prove there can be significant health benefits in familiar foods consumers know and love. In fact, gut-health-focused snacks are an excellent gateway for the general consumer to get used to functional ingredients like prebiotics, probiotics and botanicals, traditionally found in supplement form. Given the mainstream shopper’s buying power, tapping into the better-for-you snacking market could be the most lucrative tactic yet for your microbiome strategy.

You see, the ‘microbiome’ is not merely a trend, but a movement. It’s a greater piece of the masterplan to improve the health of consumers globally. Being prepared with a microbiome strategy and choosing to innovate with science-backed ingredients, means your brand is ready to disrupt the conventional Consumer Packaged Goods industry as we know it. What’s your microbiome strategy?



1
Mintel: Digestive Health: Incl Impact of COVID-19, 2020

2 ADM Outside Voice Consumer insights, 2020

3 The Innova Consumer Survey 2020

4 Mintel: Benefits of Functional Fibers, 2020

5 Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap: Available here, 2015

6 Cure Hydration, 2020

7 Myths and misconceptions about chronic constipation. Available here, 2005

8 UFA Consumer Research, 2020

9 The Innova Consumer Survey 2020

10 ITC Insights: Consumer Survey, 2020

11, 12 Mondelez International’ State of Snacking’ Report, 2020


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