Capturing trends at the right time can be difficult. But after more than 10 years in the supplement industry as a formulator and an ingredient account executive, I have a unique perspective that allows me to foresee trends and the niches they will create. Here I provide my top five supplement trends for the coming year, so that brands and their suppliers can find the right direction for creativity and successful development in 2015 and beyond.
1. Microbiome Impact
While some brands focus on launching the next probiotic, others possess a secret – it’s not about the handful of bacteria your probiotic adds to the gut but how all of our products create a shift in the microbiome. What is the microbiome? The microbiome represents the full quantity and identity of the microorganisms of a particular area of the body. Microbiome areas include the obvious areas of the gut and genitals as well as the less obvious of mouth and skin.
The two main reasons for interest in microbiomes include potential health impacts and product development pipeline opportunities. When looking at the microbiome, especially the gut microbiome, the impact on demographics from infants to the elderly is continually growing. From obesity to brain health, there seems to be, at the very least, an indirect impact in multiple health categories based on the ratio and types of organisms that reside in the gut.
2. Probiotics – Higher Potencies and “Condition-Specific”
Dovetailing the microbiome, the probiotics (EU) trend continues to grow at a seemingly limitless pace. Every channel in the supplement industry experienced new launches in the last 24 months, but we haven’t seen anything yet!
The major trends for 2014 focus on higher potencies, better stability and specific conditions. While there may be some concern about hitting potencies that push toward 1 trillion CFU (colony forming units) per dose, the safety limits of probiotics on healthy populations have yet to be quantified. The trend of “diversity” has been the push for the last few years from a few brands like Garden of Life, Renew Life and MegaFood, and I see this trend increasing in 2015 because of microbiome data demonstrating that more diversity in general appears to be healthier than less diversity. Conversely, condition-specific, normally associated with a single ingredient or less diverse formulation that demonstrated clinical effect(s), gives end-users the confidence that the product they consume will “work.”
3. Sports Nutrition: Better Protein Utilization – efficient digestion / absorption
“Protein, protein, protein.” It’s the mantra of every athlete and body builder. In the past, the idea of “more is better” appears to have been the focus of most sports nutrition brands. Though some brands understand the specific enzymes needed for better protein (EU) utilization, the digestion of proteins so they can be effectively utilized has been almost completely missed.
Not until recently have more brands had the opportunity to tap into these specific enzymes for their types of proteins. There are many keys to protein digestion and utilization. When sports nutrition brands leverage this type of experience from suppliers, they can make their existing protein products more efficient, so everyone wins. Watch the thought leaders in this category, especially over the next few months.
These last 2 trends, along with #1 were regularly discussed at the Nutrition Business Journal Summit in July, 2014. While the trends themselves are not new, below you may find a new perspective on both of these.
Opposition to GMOs increases almost daily. The reasons range from health concerns to political corporatism. Whatever the reason for consumers, non-GMO (EU) products are taking marketshare daily. Non-GMO project verification, as well as other verifiers possibly entering in the process, represent the distrust of consumers of even well-intentioned companies. This verification process, while cumbersome, creates a consumer response like nothing else on the label. Keep an eye on this trend…and get your products prepared for continued momentum in the United States.
5. Defining Natural
Elusive as it may feel, natural will likely be defined in 2015. How? It goes back to our first trend, the microbiome. When looking at all of the possibilities of how to define natural, the most sensible definition is based on one question: how does this product affect natural systems?
As companies demonstrate their products’ abilities to benefit the microbiome and overall human health, defining natural will finally have a more easily quantified metric, rather than a vague definition of material source, manufacturing process(es), final product form, etc. If the community of organisms (not any single organism) experiences detrimental effects, then the “natural” designation of the product will come into question. Having said that, there are still issues of quantity of a certain material or ingredient and how that might affect the microbiome, as larger quantities will certainly have different effects than smaller…but knowing those nuances provides brands with better opportunities to define an elusive term and stand out from their competitors.
About the Author:
Francisco Rodriguez is the founder of Supplement Innovator, a consulting service for small to mid-size supplement companies. He has worked in the industry for over a decade as a formulator and account executive for companies such as Garden of Life and Danisco. His experience gives him specialized expertise in probiotics, protein, brain health and weight management. Email Francisco for information on how Supplement Innovator can help turn your nutrition ideas into reality.
The views, opinions and technical analyses presented here are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of UL, ULProspector.com or Knowledge.ULProspector.com. While the editors of this site make every effort to verify the accuracy of its content, we assume no responsibility for errors made by the author, editorial staff or any other contributor. All content is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without prior authorization from Prospector.