Consumers Are Turning to More Functional Products

A major global survey has found more than four in ten consumers have increased their purchases of functional foods, beverages, and supplements since the start of the pandemic.

Kerry, the makers of clinically demonstrated immune health ingredient Wellmune, surveyed 13,000 people across 16 countries to provide manufacturers with insights into the impact of COVID-19 on purchasing behaviours.

Forty-four percent of respondents globally said they had bought more dietary supplements since the outbreak of the pandemic, while 42 percent had increased their purchases of functional or fortified foods and beverages.

Respondents were presented with a list of health areas and asked which were reasons for buying healthy lifestyle products. Globally nearly six in ten (58%) chose immune system support, significantly more than the numbers who picked healthy bones and joints (46%), digestive health (43%), heart health (40%) and improved energy (39%). Immune health was the top health benefit sought by consumers in each of the 16 countries surveyed.

As many as 39 percent of consumers had used an immune health product over the past six months and a further 30 percent would consider doing so in future, suggesting a total potential immune health market of 69 percent.

“Interest in health and wellness has never been higher and we wanted to give the industry new insights into changing purchasing habits,” commented John Quilter, Kerry VP of Global Portfolio – ProActive Health.

“One of our key findings was the scale of the impact of the pandemic on demand – not just for immune health products, but for functional foods, beverages, and supplements overall. Consumers were adopting increasingly proactive, holistic attitudes to health, wellness and nutrition long before 2020 but the pandemic has massively accelerated this trend.”

The survey also revealed the food and beverage categories where immune health is a particularly powerful purchase driver. One in three (33%) consumers said they would be interested in purchasing fruit and vegetable juices if they contained ingredients that promoted immune support. Many other categories were also seen as a good fit for immune health benefits, including spoonable yogurt (31%), dairy-based drinks (28%) and hot beverages (24%).