World Health Day was created by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to draw attention to a specific health topic that impacts people around the world. The date marks the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948.
According to Beneo, one in four consumers today consider themselves flexitarian – versus only 7% identifying as vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian – making it a highly important target group for manufacturers.
Almost half of this demographic already buy alternatives to meat (45%) and dairy (49%), with one in three indulging in plant-based chocolate (32%). The movement is also creating a greater demand for plant-based bakery and snack treats – and producers would really be missing a trick not to capitalise on it.
People and plants
The functional ingredients specialist said this year’s message – Our Planet, Our Health – is more important than ever.
“In line with 2022’s theme for World Health Day, manufacturers are not only well-positioned to support consumers with their healthy living objectives through leveraging functional ingredients, said Stefanie De Roover, sales director, EMEA, Beneo, noting the important caveat that they “also have a duty to our planet by implementing sustainable manufacturing practice.
“Increasingly, we are seeing consumers recognise the critical role that nutrition plays for staying healthy.”
WHO stats show that 1 in10 European adults currently struggle with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, while a rapidly ageing population is further promoting the need for healthier living, particularly as immunity declines with age.
Beneo’s research found the majority of flexitarians are taking active steps to boost their nutrition, with 7 in 10 paying more attention to on-pack nutritional claims (compared to 5 in 10 in the general population).
Half of flexitarians also keep up with the latest food trends, creating opportunities for producers to develop more adventurous foods across a range of applications and different cuisines. However, similar to the general population, taste and texture remain key.
People and the planet
“Consumer have also started paying more attention to sustainability, recognising the intrinsic link between our health and that of our planet,” said De Roover.
In fact, Beneo’s research found 60% of consumers are more attentive of the impact their consumption has on the environment.
And compared to other consumers, flexitarians are especially interested in sustainability and transparent labels, with 84% anxious about climate change and the environment, 86% wanting to know how their food is made and what is in it, and 60% prioritising product quality and traceability labels when shopping (compared to 41% of the general population).
“This is why understanding the key motivations and expectations of flexitarians are vital for product development and marketing success,” said De Roover.
Myriam Snaet, head of Market Intelligence and Consumer Insights at Beneo, added, “Flexitarians are the driving force within the plant-based segment and they are a sophisticated target group: they are looking for a convenient way to include innovative and adventurous taste experiences in their daily diet and aren’t willing to compromise on enjoyment.
“Delivering on taste and texture is key to building a loyal consumer base. Thanks to ingredients such as those from Beneo, it is possible for ‘plant-based’ and ‘indulgence’ to go hand in hand for a wide variety of applications.”
Apart from its extensive portfolio of functional ingredients, Beneo is continually improving its sustainability journey along the entire value chain, such as promoting good farming practices to encourage biodiversity and reduce water pollution and soil erosion.
“We’ve also successfully reduced our specific energy consumption by 50% over the last 30 years, demonstrating our commitment to the planet,” said De Roover.
- Beneo’s 2021 Global Plant-Based Survey was conducted by market researcher Insites Consulting in July 2021, targeting 11,990 consumers in Spain, France, Germany, Poland, UK, US, Brazil, Australia, China and Russia.
Since 2007, Beneo has been producing ingredients from natural sources, designed to improve the nutritional and technical properties of a variety of applications by supporting health and optimising taste and texture. The company’s portfolio includes functional carbohydrates from sugar beet, prebiotic chicory root fibre, plant-based proteins and specialty ingredients from rice.