Health and wellness food trends in Europe - Statistics and Facts

Health and wellness trends in food and drink products have increasingly gathered momentum in the past couple of years as consumers turn to less processed and more natural alternatives to their usual products. Although encapsulating a number of ongoing trends, health and wellness categories in the European Union can be broadly divided into organic, food intolerance, naturally healthy, health and wellness, better for you and fortified or functional products, all of which have experienced positive compound annual growth rates. Within Europe, the west has a well-established although still growing market, while the Eastern European market is catching up in sales of free-from and organic products.

The reasons behind such shifts in behavior are multifold, ranging from a heightened awareness of manufacturing processes and ingredients to rising levels of dietary intolerances. An increasingly large share of consumers avoid a number of food ingredients or attributes for health purposes, whereas a smaller share are restricted medically by what they can and cannot eat. As such, consumer awareness of claims on food and beverage products is high, as well as those who actively seek such positionings. Product claims have even been shown to increase the likelihood of a consumer switching their usual bread and dairy products without claims for those with.

Largely, these issues have arisen as a result of highly publicized food scandals and current affairs, such as the divisive topic of artificial sweeteners or the World Health Organization's report on processed meat as carcinogenic. Such cases have had a profound impact on eating habits with decreases in consumption of certain foods, such as meat and sugar. Oftentimes, the removal of these ingredients from people's diets results in their replacement by a substitute, as is the case for meat alternatives. Consumer desire for natural alternatives is strong and plant-based ingredients have become the rising star in everything from flavored drink products to refined white sugar substitutes. All in all, the health-promoting benefits of natural foods are seen as preferable to the added benefits of functional foods. The case is particularly strong for plant-based food supplements, which enjoy a large share of the European supplement market.

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