Innovation in action

Consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of health and wellbeing, and how food and good nutrition plays an important role in everyday life. Health and wellness trend reveals promising opportunities for new product innovations and business for food and beverage manufacturers. Consumers’ behavior and preferences are shaped also through globalization, digital reach, and individualism, so how to meet the consumer needs?

Research at Valio has focused on the growing health and wellness trend. As consumers are keen to boost their wellbeing, they want products that offer concrete benefits that they can understand and genuine nutritional values. Rising trends and better-for-you options, such as digestive wellness, sugar reduction, immune and gut health, free from diets, healthy ageing or good nutrition are speeding up the growth of new product launches.

Sugar is the number one nutritional no-no for consumers
Sugar reduction is a trend that is here to stay as people become increasingly aware of its contributing role to dietary related diseases. Consumers are constantly looking for ways to reduce their sugar intake – even with indulgence products like chocolate or desserts. A concern also validated by the WHO’s active push for stricter regulatory measures on sugar intake. People are looking for honest indulgence, preferring products with natural sugar alternatives in lieu of artificial additives, without compromising on taste and texture.

Valio’s researchers were the first to document the importance of the correct ash-protein ratio in reduced sugar chocolate. This phenomenon has not been discovered in previous research, as the sugar reduction in previous studies has been achieved by using polyols or fibres. Valio achieved the 30 percent sugar reduction by replacing sugar by milk-based protein. Valio’s research findings were published in a peer reviewed article in The International Dairy Journal on February 7th, 2020.

A link to the full research article is at the end of the piece.

Digestive wellness diversifies
People all over the world have digestive issues. It’s no wonder that digestive wellness is gaining interest in the market. Digestive wellness encompasses a large portion of dietary needs for people looking to enjoy natural foods without discomfort. This presents an opportunity for food manufacturers to provide solutions to diverse nutrition interests including probiotics, prebiotics, and free from – for example gluten free or lactose free.

Lactose free products are an appealing option for many consumers
A considerable proportion of the global population has problems tolerating and absorbing lactose, which may cause them digestive issues. In general, consumers understand that milk – and the lactose in milk in particular – is the possible cause behind their gut issues. For this reason, milk-containing products that promote lactose free attributes appeal to a broad swathe of the global market.

Lactose free products are a growing sector in the latest food and beverage product launches nowadays, and in the dairy sector, products promoting lactose free claims have been among the fastest growing. While most of lactose free launches are in white milks, other categories, such as ice cream, chocolate milks, snacking products, yogurts and puddings are also growing.

Nutrition and overall well-being impact the immune system in every age
Consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of a well-functioning immune system, and they are looking to make changes to their diet and lifestyle to support their wellness and immune system. The human immune system is a sum of several factors. Genes and early childhood play a major role. Still, lifestyle and daily choices, such as nutrition, sleep, and activity, greatly contribute to the functioning of the immune system.

A varied diet of pure and high-quality foods is essential in staying healthy and active. Dairy is a great element of a balanced every-day diet in all age groups, as it is naturally nutrient dense. Nutrient-rich dairy ingredients provide a valuable opportunity for food manufacturers to develop products that support the wellness trend with convenience.

Protein powers on
Protein maintains its positive association as a valuable nutrient that answers the needs of various health interests. People want to obtain protein from recognizable sources while preserving an appealing taste and texture. Milk protein is a proficient source of high-quality protein in its natural and intrinsic form. Dairy can be considered a complete protein that is not only rich in other nutrients but also provides high nutrient density with excellent taste properties. There is demand in the market for new food and beverage products that promote competitive advantages such as increased protein and reduced sugar with straightforward, natural ingredients.

Healthy aging
The world is aging, and older adults want to stay active and energetic, maintain their brain function and enjoy the taste of food. In fact, their quality of life depends on it. As a result, aging adults are willing to invest in food products that support these objectives. This is a great opportunity for the food industry. Valio has launched Valio Eila™ NUTRI F+, a lactose free formulated milk protein powder blend for ageing nutrition. This ingredient is specifically designed for the nutritional needs of seniors and older adults. The powder has a high milk protein concentration and contains vitamins, minerals and phospholipids that help to support healthy ageing by maintaining the normal muscle and cognitive functions.

Valio focuses on dairy ingredients and solutions for health-conscious consumers
Valio’s specialty dairy ingredients and solutions give food and beverage producers the tools to tweak their offerings to better respond to the market’s demands. In addition to offering tasty, healthy, and nutritionally balanced food with customized functionalities, companies can develop their products to suit many consumer trends. Health-conscious people want to avoid e-codes or ingredients they don’t recognize. Products made from familiar, understandable ingredients and with minimal processing meet consumer expectations for healthy and clean-label products.

Valio is the world’s most innovative dairy and food company. Four thousand Finnish dairy farmers own Valio through cooperatives. Valio has 4000 professionals at work from different sectors and it listens to consumers with its more than 100 years of experience. Nobel Laureate A.I. Virtanen’s legacy continues to live on within the business. When he headed Valio’s laboratories, the concept of improving the wellbeing of people took root as a guiding principle. Valio turns science into products that make life better. Consumers in more than 60 countries enjoy Valio products, and it has 350 patents for its innovations around the world.
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