Botanical demands soar, spotlighting on-the-go products among younger population
08 Sep 2022 --- Industry leaders highlight the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the botanicals industry, driven by an increased consumer interest for natural health products. NutritionInsight speaks to Lubrizol, Finzelberg, Anklam Extrakt and Symrise on the latest trends in formats, ingredients and technological innovation for botanicals.
“Given that consumers are becoming more health conscious, there will be more emphasis than ever on brands being seen to take a proactive and holistic approach to sustainability and naturalness,” says Isabel Gomez, global marketing manager at Lubrizol.
“This means that there will be more importance placed on natural formulation containing botanical ingredients and related to this, locality, and sustainability claims. In addition, trust is something that is of high importance to consumers, which demand reassurance around the safety, healthiness, transparency, and validation of health claims associated with natural ingredients,” she adds.
Pandemic-driven immune health
Botanicals used for sleep,immune support and for stress relief, increased in the last years, says Franziska Herbst, marketing team leader at Anklam Extrakt. She explains that uncertainty for the future, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, pushed this demand.
“According to a recent report from Innova Market Insights, there is an increasing interest in botanicals to improve health functions with ‘more than 50% of global consumers looking for products with botanicals’,” says Gomez.
“Consumers are looking for solutions for digestive health, mood management and immunity. Furthermore, in new product launches, botanicals are highly linked to immune health, energy/alertness and increasingly to help support healthy stress responses and proper sleep.”
Symrise flags the importance of identifying trends and consumer expectations for authentic and pure natural taste directions. “Studies confirm the desire for a healthy lifestyle, natural goodness, authentic taste, best from nature, and especially natural products, which are well known and emotionally experienced,” says Michelle Schneider, category marketing manager at the company’s BU Beverages segment.
Technology for climate change
Martin Felkner, key account and marketing manager at Finzelberg, says that technology is a “strong driver and enabler of innovation in the industry for botanicals.” From planting seeds to screening and selection using artificial intelligence, it provides efficiency and productivity to create more resilient plants.
He adds that technology is an operational enabler in agriculture and cultivation, and that it has shown positive effects on the challenges of climate change.
“Take for example water drip irrigation innovation or satellite data predicting precipitation patterns more precisely. Science is and has always been a major technology influence and vice versa. Inexpensive DNA sequencing methods, sophisticated laboratory devices and testing protocols allow us to screen, find, evaluate and harness more constituents and molecules than ever before,” Felkner underscores.
“The choice of extraction process may influence the quality of a given botanical product. It has also become very relevant to be able to identify analytically the specific levels of bioactives to provide an effective dosage and bring clinical substantiation to support health claims,” Gomez adds.
Gomez also highlights ensuring the bioavailability of the botanical ingredients and its importance, as several are poorly soluble, significantly limiting their absorption. Microencapsulation has been used in this way to improve the benefits of products. For example, in the case of curcumin obtained from turmeric extract, encapsulation can act as a delivery system to enhance the bioavailability,” says Gomez.
Anti-inflammatory and immune boosting
Lubrizol highlights turmeric as one of the most popular ingredients, as it has been linked to promoting healthy aging by its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.”
“More recently, nutraceutical brand manufacturers have turned their attention to adaptogens such as ashwagandha, siberian ginseng and maca to promote mental wellbeing,” says Gomez.
“During the last year, we experienced a big demand for elderberry products. Prices for raw materials like berries and juice exploded, with adulteration being a big problem. Elderberry products are known for their use as antiviral and as immune support. Due to its pleasant taste, elderberry products are popular ingredients and can be used in various dosage forms,” says Herbst.
Felkner shares the perspective that Finkelberg is focusing on ingredients related to the central nervous system, such as valerian, St. John’s wort, passionflower, lemon balm and ginkgo.
“Today, we are seeing strong demand for gender-specific product concepts and related ingredients. Take, for example, solutions dedicated to menopausal health, including ingredients like milk thistle, rhapontic rhubarb and black cohosh. For urinary tract and sexual health, examples are saw palmetto and damiana,” Felkner notes.
Symrise also highlights that beneficial immune ingredients are on the rise. Therefore botanicals with these characteristics are put in the spotlight.
“Among the main used and enjoyed botanicals, we identified mint, ginger, hibiscus, elderflower and basil,” says Schneider.
On-the-go formats in the spotlight
Symrise continues explaining that the ingredients above “resulted in concepts like pure water infused with natural and gently processed botanicals or tea-based solutions.”
“Regarding supplements, although traditional capsules continue to lead the market, new formats are being created to make supplements more conveniently consumed. With the increasing importance of sensory appeal and convenience to the end consumer, on-the-go formats – such as gummies, drinks, and powders – will be prioritized as delivery formats,” says Gomez.
“The entire user experience has never been more present and demanded. Forms delivering full sensory potential are on the rise, first and foremost, liquids. From oil drops to syrups and from shots to ready-to-drink or ready-to-mix drinks. However, to successfully manufacture nutraceuticals in any of these delivery formats, the stability of the ingredients must be considered,” Gomez underscores.
Herbst stresses that companies are experimenting with different dosage forms. Still at the top of popularity are capsules and tablets, however gummies and sticks are being experimented with more and more.
The younger generation
Gomez says that the younger generations have made the largest efforts over the last years to adopt a long-term approach to health. Interest is growing toward natural ways to improve and support health, especially post the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At the same time, these target consumers are paying closer attention to the ingredients in the products they turn to. They demand more transparency and clinical validation than ever regarding such natural claims. Moreover, they also want products to be sustainable and local. When it comes to such products, authenticity around claims is more important than ever,” Gomez notes.
“Younger consumers are especially driving the revival of interest in botanicals. Baby boomers don’t seem to share the same interest as younger generation groups, especially millennials, in ethically sourced and organic foods, which is where botanicals come in,” Gomez concludes.
By Beatrice Wihlander
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