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Only a few years ago, gut health was a little known area of the wellness market, let alone the food and drink sector. But today, products that boast gut-health-boosting properties provide a fast-growing opportunity for food brands and retailers.
Euromonitor International’s Health and Nutrition Survey 2020 found that about a quarter of consumers globally suffer from lower digestive health issues. Gut health, which refers to the health of the microbiome in the gastrointestinal tract, is increasingly linked to physical diseases and mental health issues, so it is no wonder that more and more consumers are looking to food and drink products to keep their gut health in good shape.
“In Western markets, gut health is gaining popularity among consumers who pursue a holistic approach to healthy living,” Katharina Bagul, industry manager for food and nutrition at Euromonitor, writes. With links to other trends taking the food sector by storm – such as immunity and CBD – it is certainly an area worth exploring for indies.
“The rise of gut health food is being driven by three key factors – education, science and brands,” explains Jon Walsh, co-founder of gut-friendly food brand Bio&Me. “Now more than ever, it’s apparent that consumers are learning more and striving for healthy lifestyle choices. Within this, gut health plays an important role.”
Health-conscious consumers are seeking out information on how to eat for better gut health. In fact, Dr. Megan Rossi, dietitian and co-founder of Bio&Me, has seen her books on the topic rise to the top of bestseller lists as the craving for understanding grows.
Bio&Me is not the only brand pursuing gut-friendly foods, and there are an array of products that cater to this trend, from live yoghurt to fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. Drinks with gut health credentials are also on the rise, including live-cultured beverages like kombucha, with brands such as Remedy and Good Earth offering quality products with strong health credentials. Elsewhere, B.fresh cold pressed juices are tackling the gut biome, while the brand Steeps has created an infusion of ingredients including everything from apple cider vinegar to turmeric, ginger and horseradish that aims to provide a once-a-day gut-friendly wellness boost.
“For fine food retailers, there is a huge opportunity to be part of this growing trend and lead the way in this sector,” Jon says. He cites independent retailers such as Planet Organic, Whole Foods, Selfridges, Booths and Revital which are joining in with the “health food revolution as shoppers become more savvy and educated on the importance of a healthy, balanced diet”.
With consumers increasingly focused on a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, sparked in part by the Covid-19 pandemic, gut health will be at the centre of the conversation. By discovering the products that exist at the intersection of quality taste and health benefits, retailers will not only have the opportunity to stock a variety of new flavours, but will also be at the forefront of the latest consumer trends.