Probiotic Drinks More Popular Than Ever

There is an increasing number of health-conscious individuals who prefer to buy products that have more nutritional value than junk foods. As a result, the sales of probiotic drinks increased by 31.2% over the past year based on the data generated by the Chicago-based research company, SPINS.

But what could have led the change of heart to switch from standard sugary drinks to probiotics? Consumers have become increasingly aware of how important it is to maintain a healthy gut for good overall health. On top of that, the natural approach to digestive health is trending. With an increasing number of people opting for healthier drinks, this also pushed beverage manufacturers to find innovative ways to add more nutritional value to their products.

New Niche Created By Probiotic Beverages

Beverage makers are now using botanical ingredients to add natural flavor and nutritional benefits to their drinks. Uncommon ingredients such as lavender, lemongrass, elderberry, and turmeric are being added to intrigue consumers. They have also incorporated probiotics in different bases including dairy, grains, plant-based milk, as well as fruit and vegetable juices.

Some manufacturers have created shelf-stable probiotics that contain billions of live good bacteria that can last longer than traditional probiotics.

Backed by Science 

Good stomach health has always been linked to a better immune system. What resides in the gut is a plethora of microflora that controls the release of hormones and even the body’s metabolism. Probiotic drinks are marketed as healthy drinks that can help in weight loss, depression, and solve allergy problems.

The results of the extensive research involving probiotics have been used by beverage companies to create exceptional drinks. But aside from using probiotics, beverage companies are also interested in using fiber to boost the nutritional value of their products.

For instance, studies have indicated that the use of chicory root can feed the normal microflora bacteria in the gut. According to Carol Lowry, Cargill’s senior food scientist, chicory root can enhance the growth of lactobacillus in the gut thus maintaining the neutral balance of the gut. This is the reason why beverage manufacturers are also looking into using chicory roots in making powdered beverages, flavored water, smoothies, and juices. Even coffee has been seen as a marketable product that may possibly contain chicory roots.

While the industry of probiotics has huge market potential, food scientists are still facing a huge obstacle to creating beverages that are still tasty and can withstand higher temperature without destabilizing its structure.

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PowerBar Brand Adds Plant-Based Snack Bars

PowerBar, a snack bar company, based in California decided to meet the demands of vegans, vegetarians, and anyone who is into clean eating by producing their line of plant-based snack bars as part of their Clean Start campaign. This campaign involves the use of cleaner ingredients and labeling to create transparent, nutritious, and better-tasting products.

According to Doug Cornille, Vice President of Marketing, the plant-based snacks are made from plant proteins and are designed primarily for sports players. Research and marketing have developed the snack bars for athletes who have health restrictions, but these snack bars are perfect for people from all walks of life. The company also produced this line of plant-based snacks to diversify their portfolio and have a wider reach in the market.

PowerBar’s Plant-Based Protein Sources

Most people who are not aware of the plant-based movement are confused about plant-based protein sources. Protein, contrary to what most people think, is not restrictively sourced from animal products. They can be obtained from nuts, seeds, grains, and even green leafy vegetables. The company can make snack bars from peanuts, almonds, and cashew nuts.

The snack bars also contain ample amount of fiber to aid in proper digestion. The company also made sure that the snack bar is ideal for people with other food restrictions. In fact, it is gluten, soy, and dairy free. This makes it a perfect snack bar for individuals who suffer from celiac disease.

The Future of Plant-Based Snack Bars

As part of the Clean Start campaign, the company makes sure that all ingredients used are organic and GMO-free.  They also use natural sweeteners to make the snack bars more appealing without using sugar. Healthy nut fats and butter are also used not only to enhance the flavor profile of the product but also to boost its nutritional value.

While food scientists have only tapped a few ingredients to make the protein snack bars, it is expected in the future that they will also try other ingredients like vegetables, fruits, root crops, and even leafy greens to make better versions of the popular snack bars. The future of this particular niche is to produce snack bars that are not only delicious and nutritious but also less calorie dense and more fiber content.

The future of plant-based snack bars is auspicious. Market studies have shown that the plant-based niche of the snack industry is still new and since many people are adopting the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle, brands can expect an increase in the demand for healthy and high-performing snacks bars in the future.

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DanoneWave Quietly Reduces Fat and Sugar

The French multinational food manufacturing giant, DanonWave, is famous for making nutrient-dense foods with less fat and sugar. The company is known for its brands such as Danimals, Dannon, Activia yogurt, and newly acquired plant-based brands like Vega and Silk. While it is one of the main players in the health food industry, the company has recently announced that it will embark on improving its products by boosting their fiber, protein, Vitamin D, and decreasing the fat & sugar. This announcement was part of the company’s recent commitment to address childhood obesity.

According to Philippe Caradec, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, the company values its mission to bring healthy food to as many people as they can reach all over the world.

Why Are Companies Like DanoneWave Redeveloping Their Portfolio?

Most of the giant food and beverage manufacturers have been redeveloping their portfolio by creating new product formulations or acquiring healthy startups. But, what is the reason behind this? It is imperative for big food companies to meet the changing demands of their consumers.

It is important to take note that more consumers are opting for healthier foods, so changing the brand portfolio is a good strategy to draw in more future customers. Examples of food companies that have revamped their portfolio by releasing a healthy line of products include Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Campbell Soup.

But what about DanoneWave? The company embarked on its robust portfolio when it acquired the great beverage-maker WhiteWave in a $10.4 billion deal. The company has been making snack bars, cookies, and more over the past few decades. While it has been treading on the health food path longer than other companies, DanoneWave lacks variety, so the company is betting on products like bottled waters, baby foods, and yogurts.

Millennials: The New Market


While some companies embark on revamping their portfolio as part of a bandwagon or fad, DanoneWave sees another potential. In fact, they are revamping their product line because they see the Millennials as the most promising of all target markets.

The biggest driver of the health food niche are millennials who are now becoming more aware of lifestyle diseases and healthy options. But while marketing to the millennials is needed by most health food companies, it is quite challenging to convince millennials to buy products by just claiming that they are sugar-free or fat-free. Marketing products as such can also lead to consumers to think that they are consuming products that are less appealing. Millennial consumers are becoming wiser every day, so companies like DanoneWave have to include clean labeling and transparency in their products by including honest nutritional labels on each of their products.

The future of health food companies like DanoneWave lies in the hands of meticulous consumers. This is the reason why it is so important to use different strategies such as reformulating their products, revamping their brand, acquiring healthy food start-ups, and also using transparent clean labels.

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How Brands Can Compete with Amazon’s CPG Subscriptions

With technology at our fingertips, consumers all over the globe have experienced many conveniences–one in the form of online shopping. In a study conducted a few years ago, it noted that the e-commerce of consumer packaged goods rose by 42%. In fact, Amazon accounted for more than 20% of all the CPG growth.

Scott Galloway from New York University said that Amazon is dominating the retail industry and is undoubtedly evolving. But what makes Amazon the epitome of the retail industry? Simply put, the company delivers its products fast and simple. The brown packaging contains exactly what the clients ordered – no frills and flair involved.

The preference of people to get consumer packaged goods from Amazon has caused fierce competition for the smaller retailers. Although this may spell impending doom to Amazon’s competitors, there are still ways to compete with Amazon, and the secret lies heavily on owning the contact information of their customers so they can build their database and analyze purchase behavior analysis. Creating a competitive subscription service is the key, but, how can this be done?

Create A Dedicated Subscriptions Channel

Dedicate a subscription channel that can handle and connect with consumers. Customer service is critical. For bigger companies, look for a younger yet promising employee who exhibits management skills and IT skills to man the subscription channel. By doing so, they will be in-charge of making real-time reactions to different market conditions and make decisions based on what the customer wants and needs.


Do A Trial Run

Before introducing a subscription, it is important to perform a trial run. The test size for the trial run should be sizable enough that it is statistically significant. It should be marketed on different digital channels and must be done in different variations so that management can determine the best product offering. This means that the trial should involve many (even hundreds) of subscription orders to be able to pinpoint which one justifies the cost per order and the scalability of the campaign. Once the specific subscription has been identified, it is important to do continuous testing as digital channels are always evolving, what works today might not work tomorrow.

Partner with A Subscription-Focused Vendor

Launching a subscriptions campaign requires constant research. Smaller companies can take advantage of hiring technology vendors to create programs for e-commerce, analytics, as well as customer service. While creating a program in-house is easy, the systems necessarily do not communicate with one another and they are not scalable. Partnering with a vendor can provide experienced people who can work on a fully integrated solution, resulting in a faster transaction, better customer experience, and accurate data. Smaller companies can benefit from subscription channels but having their own in-house team to manage can be difficult, so partnering with experienced vendors provides the best solution.

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Growing Demand for Organic Ingredients Leads to Supply Challenges

The need for fresh ingredients by consumers has led many farmers to go into organic farming. According to data provided by the USDA, the number of organic farmers in the US has increased by almost 300% since 2002. This growth is to meet the demands of consumers who prefer organic foods more than those grown in conventional methods.

Why Is It Difficult to Completely Go Organic?

Although there is a rapid increase of organic operators in the country, it is crucial to take note that only about 0.7% of the total operable farms within the country are classified as organic.  Many farmers pointed out that the main reason why converting their conventional farmland to organic is difficult because it is expensive as well as time-consuming. In general, farmers have to wait for at least three years to be able to convert their farms. Unfortunately, during the first year of turning their land using organic practices, the produce that they grow is not sold at organic prices. Meaning, they are still paid cheap even when they are spending more on organic practices. This is leading to the supply challenges in the market.

Solutions to The Supply Challenge

To solve the supply challenges, farmers are given several incentives to make the necessary switch. These include the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that offers first-timer organic operators the right technical assistance to grow food the organic way. But, it is not only the government that provides support. Even food manufacturers, as well as retailers, have supported and implemented programs just to encourage farmers to boost their harvest. In fact, companies like Nature’s Path Foods, Whole Foods, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farms have provided grants to organic farmers to boost their production.

While organic farmers can supply the needs of food retailers and manufacturers, another problem is where to source specialty ingredients that are not grown in the United States. The solution proposed by the government was to get into digital platforms like Mercaris Auction Platform or to trade tons of organic products into the market.

All stakeholders are doing their best to provide the resources needed by the consumers. For instance, the Organic Trade Association was set up to provide suppliers and manufacturers the necessary information about their produce such as where to source their supplies, market data, and real-time pricing.

On the other hand, retailers like restaurants and grocery stores have also worked closely with organic farm operators to give them the idea of how much they will need to sustain their businesses. For instance, retail giant Walmart has worked with local organic farmers by giving them the outline of how much they need for the entire year so that the farmers can strategize on how they will be able to deliver the demands and needs of the end users.

The truth of the matter is that, while organic farming is prevalent, the number of organic operators is still not enough to be able to create a sustainable supply of products to the retailers and consumer product companies.

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Top 10 Food Trends to Watch at IFT 2017

In April, Food Technology magazine editor, Elizabeth Sloan, published an extensive article on the top 10 trends in the food industry. IFT 2017 in Las Vegas will be a great opportunity to see how ingredient companies are trying to meet the new priorities on healthy, natural, and nutritional focused offerings.

Here is a look at the top 10 trends to watch at IFT 2017 Las Vegas.

1. Prep It

Partially prepared foods are winning in-home supper preparation. According to FMI, 53% of shoppers used some semi-prepared foods versus on 35% that cooked from scratch. In 2016, sales of clean/preservative-free frozen meals reached $2.3 billion. Convenience continues to drive brands to develop quickly prepared foods and meals to meet the consumer’s lifestyle.

2. Lifestyle Foods

46% of the time Americans are eating alone with single adults making up 28% of all U.S. households. It’s no wonder that single-serve packaging and individual multi-packs are seeing increased demand. According to Accosta, 74% of people agree that frozen snacks are convenient at work which highlights that single-serve, on-the-go packaging could increase frozen snack sales substantially. People are now eating more early morning meals, and they are focused on nutrients and protein. Brands have to take a look at how lifestyles are changing to make effective decisions with new product development going forward.

3. Kid-Specific

Baby, toddler, and kid-focused products will grow rapidly as Millennials start to settle down over the next few years. According to Euromonitor, sales of infant formula are expected to grow to over $50 billion worldwide in 2017. Vitamin and mineral fortified, digestive health, eye health, organic, non-GMO, and all natural are top claims on leading formulas. In a report from IRI, they concluded that 40% of all snack sales are from households with kids. Packaged Facts found that 49% of all moms say that nutrition is the top food selection factor with 23% wanting to see more foods with hidden veggies. Bottom line, kid-focused products that appeal to the health conscious parents are winning.

4. Nationalism

A new pride in products made in America will drive increased sales for American cuisine, ingredients, and comfort food. Southerners and households with kids are most likely to buy and eat American made products. Another trend driving this new nationalism is local sourcing for grocery stores and restaurants. According to FMI, 66% of all U.S. shoppers are interested in meats raised in the United States with 60% believing that foods from China pose health risks. American pride is at a high again, and it’s a significant trend for natural products companies to look at carefully.

5. Nutrition

Consumer demand for a healthy lifestyle with simple application continues to gain steam. According to Nielsen, nutritional/supplement bars, drinks, and meal replacements with among the top 10 fastest growing food and beverage categories in the U.S. IFIC reported that 64% of adults tried to get more protein in their diet with 56% looking for more vitamins and minerals. CRN found that 75% of adults take a multi-vitamin daily. The protein gold mine has been most successful in the healthy snacks and frozen entrees categories according to Nielsen. The biggest missed opportunity according to IRI is in snack nutritionals with 60% of consumers looking for energy boosting snacks and 57% seeking snacks with more vitamins and minerals. Nutrition is easily the hottest trend to look out for at IFT 2017.

6. Dinner Redesigned

80% of all households prepare meals based on alternative proteins to meat/poultry at least once a week with the main reason being health according to FMI. Vegetable based “carb substitutes” are a fast growing trend at the dinner table with vegetable noodles and fries at the top of the list. New dinner trends will be important to look at as companies develop new entrees for this meal.

7. Ag Alternatives


Americans are currently experimenting with more plant-based meals. According to NRA, 40% of chefs still cite vegetarian and vegan cuisines as hot culinary trends in 2017. SPINS data showed sales of plant-based food and beverages increased to over $4.9 billion in 2016. Over past 4 years, claims around chia, quinoa, and kamut have been among fastest growing grain-based wellness claims. According to Nielsen, 62% of shoppers bought a food product because it contained fruits and/or vegetables. The new superfood on the block is the mushroom, especially for immune-boosting benefits. New plant alternatives are leading innovation in one of the fastest growing segments of the industry.

8. Upgrading

For the first time in 2016, men were more likely to buy specialty products than women. According to Anon, Sushi is outpacing bakery snacks and breakfast wraps. However, cheese remains the largest specialty category as usual. NPD found that more people are eating meals at another person’s home which is leading to explosive growth in home entertaining specialty foods. Gourmet foods are growing and will be a category to keep your eye on going forward.

9. Claim It

The best marketers and package designers are using claims and copy to convey benefits more quickly to consumers. According to Mintel, the number of “on-the-go” claims increased by 54% over the past six years. The fixation on a clean label has led to more free from, natural, and nutrient content claims. Nielsen found that 70% of all shelf-stable products will most likely be impacted by the new US FDA added sugar labeling requirements. Many sustainable claims around grass fed, free range, etc. are being perceived as healthy. Claims are crucial to attracting consumer attention and closing the deal at the shelf.

10. Natural Living

Consumers are intrigued by living a more natural, chemical-free, sustainable lifestyle. According to Nielsen, products with an organic claim saw a compound annual growth rate of 14.8% over the past 4 years. Natural claims drove growth in natural snacks like candy and cookies. Consumers want minimally processed foods with fewer ingredients, which is somewhat a headache for manufacturers.

Video: Best Sources Of Plant Proteins And Why You Need To Eat Them

People have a good relationship with meat. This is the reason why animal protein consumption has risen immensely compared to 50 years ago. But because animal protein has been linked to various diseases, there is an increase in the number of consumers who opt to consume plant-based proteins.

The Benefits Of Consuming  Plant Proteins

In research conducted at Harvard University, people who consume plant proteins have a better metabolism than those who consume just animal proteins. This led people to have a lowered risk of developing obesity. In fact, increasing your consumption of plant proteins is associated with as low as 10% risk of premature death.

Unlike animal proteins, plant proteins do not come with added nitrites and nitrates. This is particularly the case for processed meat. Opting for organic plant proteins that are chemical-free, helps reduce inflammation in the body.

Another reason why it is crucial to consume more plant protein is that they contain a lot of fiber.  Plant sources of protein are namely chickpeas, legume, lentils, grains, and beans. These contain a lot of fiber that can help keep the digestive system functioning optimally. Shifting towards plant protein is good because studies have noted that an average Western diet is deficient in natural fiber. Fiber is also necessary because it serves as fuel for the good bacteria living in your gut.

But aside from fiber, plant proteins also contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals like folate, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. They are also cholesterol-free making them good for the heart.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of eating plant protein is that it is very affordable. If you buy animal protein, it typically costs two to three times as much as plant sources of proteins. Lastly, it is also good for the environment as the carbon footprint in maki a plant-based protein is less compared to growing animal meat.


How To Eat Plant-Based Proteins And The Best Sources

Eating plant proteins can be fun. Unfortunately, some people do not eat them because they do not know how to prepare them. One of the most effective way to prepare plant protein is to sprout them especially if you have beans. Sprouted legumes have benefits as they increase the absorption of nutrients in the intestines. Another way of preparing plant protein is to take them in powder form. However, make sure that you avoid powdered plant proteins that contain additives and artificial sweeteners.

If you are planning on introducing more plant-based proteins to your diet, then there are good sources of plant proteins that you can choose from. You can get your daily protein needs by eating at least a cup of black beans, chickpeas, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, edamame, lentils, pumpkin seeds, lima beans, green peas, spinach, brown rice, kale, quinoa, and Brussels sprouts. Other sources of plant proteins can come from all types of leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Consuming plant-based protein has a lot of benefits not only to your health but also to the environment. Make sure that you incorporate them in your diet as often as you can.

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Healthy Snack Bars Driving Category Sales

The healthy snack bar category grew by 2.08% from 2016 to 2017. This equated to $6 billion of sales in all snack bar categories. The growth of the snack bar industry is attributed to manufacturers offering a broad range of products to cater to the needs of different consumers.

According to culinary scientist Kyle Stuart, snack bars that feature all-natural ingredients are becoming too generic, and they fail to differentiate with customers these days. Consumers no longer want labels saying “all-natural” on their products. They want more specifications, so niche differentiation is a dominating trend in the snack bar market right now. This is the reason why snack bars are categorized depending on their purpose – energy provision, weight loss, meal replacement, snack, and so on.

Niche Differentiation Is Evident In The Snack Bar Industry

Niche differentiation of snack bars has resulted in category differentiation. There are now snack bars intended for daytime and evening consumption as well as those formulated with diet restrictions such as gluten-free, vegan, paleo, sugar-free, and much more.

The reason for niche differentiation is attributed to the growing needs of different consumers. For instance, some consumers buy a particular brand of snack bar because they opt for clean-label offerings while others buy because the ingredients used are simple and better for them.

Clean labeling is an important trend in the snack bar industry as many consumers value transparency. According to Carol Lowry, a senior food scientist at Cargill, product transparency is one of the biggest challenges food manufacturers, in general, are facing today. How can companies innovate while still using simple ingredients? It is something that’s hard to do especially if companies are after mass producing products that have longer shelf-lives.

Food Companies Are Starting To Innovate

Although challenging, this has presented an avenue for food manufacturers to explore and discover interesting combinations. For instance, the National Honey Board is now using natural sweeteners such as honey to make their breakfast biscuits and other products. Lowry and Cargill are looking into the use of vegetables and spices to provide savory flavors on their products instead of using artificial ingredients.

Food manufacturers are also looking into fortifying their products by using plant-based proteins sourced from beans, lentils, soy, nuts and many others. Food manufacturers see the need to incorporate such ingredients to their products to improve the nutrition profile and value of their snack bars.

And since it has been a long-standing issue that using clean ingredients produces products with lower shelf-life, food manufacturers are now using natural antioxidants like tocopherols instead of artificial preservatives to extend the shelf life of their products.

The Future Of The Snack Bar Category

The production of different kinds of snack bars has led to increased category innovation. While innovation involving the nutrition profile is the primary trend today, food scientists explain that there will be more changes in the future to improve the selling point of snack bars. Such innovations will tackle the texture and calorie count of products. Until then, consumers have a lot of things to look forward to when it comes to the snack bar industry.

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