Panel discussion on...

Healthy lifestyle

Sybille Buchwald-Werner 
Co-founder & Managing Director – Vital Solutions by Fytexia

Member of AgroFOOD Industry Hi Tech's Scientific Advisory Board

In this Panel Discussion, several prominent companies within the food and nutraceutical ingredient industry have been invited to discuss about drivers and barriers of healthy lifestyle, focusing on global and regional consumer trends, scientific achievements, emerging delivery formats, use of AI technologies and the implementation of the United Nations sustainability goals.

Commentary article

Through review and analysis of the insights shared by industry leaders, four main trends shaping the healthy lifestyle landscape were identified. 

Firstly, there’s a discernible shift towards prioritizing general health maintenance, with consumers increasingly seeking delicious and convenient multi-ingredient solutions that seamlessly integrate into their daily routines. Secondly, there’s a global trend towards the popularity of gummies as enjoyable and functional delivery system. Third, the main consumer health concern reported is mental health. Last, all companies reported that sustainability has been implemented into their business principle even if they are not fully convinced that their engagement for a healthy planet will be fully valued by consumers, yet.

Consumers are increasingly prioritizing a holistic approach to health maintenance and longevity, emphasizing healthy dietary choices, reduced alcohol consumption, and physical fitness as integral components of their overall lifestyle. Multi-ingredients formulations reducing the number of products to be taken per day, contribute to higher convenience. At the same time personalization to find products fitting to individual health concerns are demanded, like women health supplements. Overall, consumers are scrutinizing more closely whether products are good value for money, effective, and essential. Choices are swayed by social media, sometimes overshadowing considerations of quality and scientific validity. Transparent product communication and education is important to empower consumers to make informed choices aligned with their values. The panel agreed that the use of educational apps could be complementary tools to reach this goal.

All panelist companies agreed that it is important to work on sustainability and to contribute to a healthy planet. Implementation levels are diverse from a trend setter already being a certified B-company, to companies implementing measures to reach the United Nations sustainable development goals, to companies which principles are built on using ethically and sustainable, locally sourced raw materials, renewable energy, apply eco-friendly processes, and have emission and waste reduction programs. 

The panel exhibits a collective commitment to establishing Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) standards, despite not all consumers being ready to pay the extra price to safeguard our planet at present. This commitment positions the panel as a trailblazer and sets a commendable example for all consumers of lifestyle products.

Different aspects were mentioned as greatest achievement in science in the last years. Embracing gender diversity for example, which is key to understand beneficial effects in target groups and is a must to develop personalized supplements or functional foods. Using non capsule formulations as study products is following the global trend for innovative delivery formats, reflexing consumers pill fatigue and demand for more food-like, tasty formulations. Nearly all panelist agreed that mental health was showing key achievements in science, overall being a global market trend; followed by digestive health, microbiota research, GLP1 science and metabolic, glucose phenotyping, collagen, and peptides investigation, as well as polyphenols supporting antiaging mechanism. The overall science target is claim-substantiation to offer safe and effective ingredients to the healthy lifestyle market.

Consumers global health focus was estimated to be focused on physical wellbeing, like pain, fatigue, constipation, weight gain, appearance, mobility, and eye-health. Health tracking by app was reported to be well accepted by the health-conscious population and interestingly, the panelist gave a low rating for the use of medical check-ups. Individuals may neglect or delay these check-ups for various reasons. Maybe the perception of taken care for their health is leading individuals to underestimate the importance of health checkups. Additionally, competing priorities such as work, family responsibilities, and financial concerns may deter individuals from scheduling and attending medical appointments. 

There was only limited input about regional trends, indicating that most of the panelist are targeting the global market.

Nevertheless, it was reported that in Middle East digestive health has a high priority, consumers in the US are mainly looking for personalization and Europe is the most traditional market still preferring solid dosage forms like capsules and tablets, while opening for powder formulations.

It was the first time that we included a question about the use of AI, particularly in clinical trials.

CROs panelist indicated that AI could provide advanced analytical tools, predictive modeling, and data-driven insights, facilitating more efficient and targeted research efforts and that they use AI tools already and that they let their customers decide to which content they would like to include it into their next studies being executed. Ingredient panelist indicated that they did not apply it yet and that they are generally open to explore it. Nevertheless, there was no unify opinion about AI being a standard tool for clinical studies until 2030. It is interesting to follow the AI development in research and we will take up these questions again within the next healthy lifestyle panel discussion.

Thank you very much for your participation and for sharing your insights. It was my pleasure to review and summarize your insights and whet your appetite for the details. 
Enjoy the reading!