What we saw at Vitafoods Europe 2016

By Hannah Heath

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Informa
Image: Informa

Related tags Nutrition

The Healthy Marketing Team (HMT) were impressed – mostly – by what they saw at the 20th year of Vitafoods Europe in Geneva last month from probiotics to novel powders to category creak and a gummy explosion, says the firm's Hannah Heath.

Probiotics – is there anything they can’t do?

Superhero probiotics expand their benefits – but does this help with consumer confusion?

This year we have seen two key developments in probiotics; one in expanding formats and the other in expanding benefit areas.

The trend in new formats for supplements continues into probiotics for both adults and children with more and more probiotic chocolates, gummies, chewing gums, single-serve sachets and on-the-go instant melt shots being seen on the show floor.

This is a sure sign that the category is moving into more accessible and more convenient health for the 'early mass' consumer.


The next development sees a list of new benefit areas opening up with probiotics delivering not just on the well known area of gut health but now also oral health, woman’s health and immunity. Essentially making it a superhero supplement.

These benefit areas have been known in the science world for a while but product expansion means that these benefits are now reaching the consumer.

So what’s the future of probiotics then? Are the Understanding​ and Acceptance​ factors reaching new consumers or will they become even more confused? The simple answer is a bit of both. The expanding formats suggest a consumer pull for accessibility and rising Acceptance​ whereas the expanding benefit areas coming from a science push may well leave the consumer scratching their head trying to Understand​ all the many benefits of probiotics. 

Format watch – gums, gummies, straws

child drinking milk

After the continued success of gummies – what’s next for supplement formats? We spotted two new formats going strong at Vitafoods: chewing gums for millennials and flavoured bead-filled straws for kids.

But what about the adults? Well we also spotted a trend in old formats moving into new segments. Gummies are gaining more and more favour with adults and the benefit area is quickly expanding. You can now get your convenient solution for your every need – whether that’s with calcium gummies, protein gummies, omega gummies, probiotic gummies etc.

The list goes on. Adult gummies are no longer just a quick fix multivitamin solution but are becoming a trusted answer for all kinds of health concerns; brain health, bone health, cardio, immunity, skin + beauty etc. In summary: adult gummies aren’t going anywhere!

Powders proliferate…along with 'every day active consumers'

As the opportunities in functional powder grows the lines between categories starts to blur as the benefit platforms crossover.

sports running bones muscle
The numbers of 'every day active' consumers is rising. ©iStock

It’s long been clear that functional powders are no longer just for the elite searching for targeted sports nutrition. However, we are now starting to see a crossover of benefit platforms and a blurring of categories: sports, weight management, meal replacements, seniors, and every day dietary protein.

The last category is the clear driver in this increasing blur with the focus of protein powders shifting to what we call 'the every day active consumer'.

This consumer is fully educated in the benefits of protein but sees it more as an essential dietary addition to their every day active life rather than a muscle-building boost of power. The every day active consumer doesn’t want to be super ​skinny or super ​buff; they want protein in order to be fit and healthy every day.

It’s a rejection of the extreme and can lead to a lot of opportunities in value-added volume e.g. whey powder + superfruits and superfoods, and a multitude of alternative plant-based protein sources: hemp, pea, rice etc.

Flexible on flexitarianism

Hannah Heath

Speaking of plant-based products, it’s worth mentioning here the new industry buzzword ‘flexitarian’ ​and a note of caution. Now while this trend is very much valid and shows signs of continued growth, the industry must be careful about the language they choose to use when communicating with this consumer i.e. no consumer identifies themselves as a flexitarian.

This consumer will be far more responsive to holistic terms such as ‘plant-based’ ​than they would be for rigid terms like 'vegan'. They reject the elitist strict diets and demand control and choice from their products so they can create their own unique and flexible diet. E.g. Purasana Plant Based Protein Powder.

Hannah Heath is a London-based insight consultant at the Healthy Marketing Team.

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