Beneo’s latest research finds older generations seeking greater range of products with health benefits

Fresh global research conducted for ingredients firm Beneo has found consumers are now even more focused on ‘positive’ ageing, with alternative healthier food and drink options perceived as being particularly desirable, writes Neill Barston.

Its studies, carried out by HealthFocus International, includes analysis of the health-conscious 50+ age range who are becoming increasingly focused on wellbeing and products that can support them in their latter years.

For its part, Beneo has long-term experience in developing and producing ingredients from natural sources for food, feed, and pharmaceutical products, including series used within confectionery and snacks ranges. This includes functional solutions relating to sweetening, such as its Palatinose sugar alternative, which has application potential in chocolate as well as baked good, that it will showcase at the live event of FiEurope, between 30 November-2 December in Frankfurt, Germany.

These plant-based functional ingredients help improve the nutritional and technical properties of a wide variety of products, 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.

According to the company’s latest commissioned study, those over-50’s concerned about the issue of healthy ageing, three out of every four (79%) are primarily focused on maintaining their ability to continue with activities as they age.

A similar number (76%) see good physical and mental health and a balanced diet as key to overall health. In particular, the importance of nutrition is reflected by the survey results: 42% think a healthy diet helps to coping better with life’s challenges. Three quarters (74%) are making a conscious effort to eat a healthy diet, while more than half (56%) choose food and drink products that provide protective or preventive health benefits. The research findings also show that offering “better nutrition” is one of the top influencing factors to consumers trying a new brand (68%), presenting food and drink manufacturers with a great opportunity to drive purchases by improving the nutrition of their products.

With regard to health benefits, the science is widely recognised by this cohort when it comes to food: 60% agree that they “accept scientific and technical improvements to foods and beverages if they provide the required benefits”. Interestingly, although only between 10-20% of these health-conscious over-50’s are personally affected by digestive health, bone health or blood glucose issues, half of those surveyed are ‘very or extremely concerned’ about such matters. These consumers are actively looking for food and beverage products that support their aim of staying healthy for longer, with more than half choosing products that promote stronger bones, improve digestion or manage blood sugar levels.

Myriam Snaet, Head of Market Intelligence and Consumer Insights at Beneo, said: “Today’s over-50’s want to be their best self. They want to be proactive in managing their health and want to live their life to the fullest, no matter the life-stage they are in. Being well aware that food choices have an effect on overall health, they are looking for food and drink products that offer additional health support, such as lowering blood glucose levels or improving digestive health. Manufacturers can help them achieve these goals by developing products that tap into these specific health benefits through the use of Beneo’s functional ingredients, including the slow-release sugar, Palatinose and prebiotic chicory root fibres oligofructose and inulin, that can easily fit into their daily routines without compromising on taste.”

Steve Walton, President at HealthFocus International also comments: “People are taking charge of their health and making serious changes. While some of these new eating patterns and nutritional adjustments happened due to COVID-19, we expect many of them to be long-lasting. We’ve seen a real shift over the past 10 years and now, healthy ageing and the quality of life it can give are top of mind today. Consumers are adopting a long-term approach to health maintenance, which highlights that healthy ageing is relevant for every age. A fact that food and drink manufacturers can use to their advantage when looking at new product development.”

As the company adds, producers looking to make the most of the increasing consumer desire to manage their blood glucose, bone health and digestive health, Beneo’s products offer solutions that are backed by sound science.

A person’s blood glucose levels are a key way to help promote long-term health, and this is why choosing the right carbohydrate is so important. BENEO’s Palatinose (isomaltulose) is a slow-release sugar which occurs naturally in honey and is derived from sugar that is naturally extracted from sugar beets. It is unique in its ability to deliver a lower rise in blood glucose, whilst providing full carbohydrate energy. It supplies the body with 4 kcal/g and contributes to daily energy intake from carbohydrates, thus making it an ideal ingredient to help support blood sugar management.

When it comes to digestive health, gut friendly foods – such as prebiotics – can help with nourishing the microbiota as a person gets older. BENEO’s prebiotic chicory root fibres oligofructose and inulin play an important role in selectively promoting the growth of good bacteria and this in turn supports a person’s inner defence system. In fact, inulin and oligofructose are the only proven plant-based prebiotics. Orafti Inulin and Oligofructose have been shown to support a healthy microbiota and the selective increase in bifidobacteria in over 50 human intervention studies and an increase in stool frequency in 20 human intervention studies.

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