Cleaner, healthier, more natural: How Generation Z is shaping the future of nutrition

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By Victor Foo, General Manager at GNT Singapore

Across the world, consumer choices about food and nutrition are increasingly driven by health considerations. Four in ten people surveyed by Innova say they have their increased their consumption of fruit and vegetables to be healthieri and there is a trend towards reduction of unhealthy ingredients such as fat and sugar, often encouraged by government initiatives such as sugar taxes. There is evidence that healthy ingredients are particularly important in Asia: research by Surveygoo has found that 68% of Asian consumers are ‘very interested’ in nutrition and healthy eating, compared with 38% of westerners.ii

Natural: The new norm

Hand in hand with interest in cleaner and healthier lifestyles is an expectation that food products will contain ingredients that are both natural and recognizable. One survey by Innova asked consumers which health factors most influenced their purchasing decisions when buying food or beverage products. “No artificial colors / flavors” topped the list in the US, the UK and China.iii Six in ten consumers say they want to avoid artificial colors specifically. iv The industry has taken note ― between 2017 and 2018, there was 11% growth in the number of new food and beverage launches colored with coloring foods (foods colored with other foods). There has also been growth in the use of processing techniques perceived as more natural, such as raw-cold-pressed or crafted.

Beyond Clean Label: The needs of Generation Z

A major catalyst for all these trends has been the emergence of a new, socially aware, digitally savvy, health-conscious generation of consumers. Sometimes labelled as Generation Z, sometimes “digital natives”, today’s young adults, teens and tweens now make up a third of the world’s population. Unable to remember a time before the internet, they seek out online sources of information, are extremely inquisitive and have strong critical thinking skills. Often influenced by social media, they desire a healthier lifestyle, but also one that makes them feel good about themselves. This group of consumers, who are now at the point of taking charge of their own spending, are the shoppers and parents of the future and expect brands to provide more than clean labels. They choose to buy from companies who offer transparency and whose products make a positive social impact, particularly when it comes to sustainability.

Food and Mood

Another phenomenon associated with Generation Z is growing interest in the role nutrition can play in supporting emotional and mental well-being. Nearly three in ten consumers now name “it makes me happy” as an important aspect of consuming food and beverage products.v

Meeting the needs of today’s consumers

The challenge for the industry then is to meet demand for healthy, nutritionally balanced food and beverage products that also look amazing and stimulate positive emotions. As a company that offers only unquestionably natural products, and has a wealth of expertise in colors, this is a need GNT is uniquely equipped to help meet.

The concentrates in our Nutrifood® range are made from a wide range of phytonutrient-rich fruits, vegetables and plants, and contain significantly higher levels of phytonutrients than standard juice concentrates. Phytonutrients are naturally occurring bioactive components, such as polyphenols (for example anthocyanins) or carotenoids that provide protective health benefits for overall wellbeing. They offer natural and effective ways to enhance the overall nutritional value and sensory appeal of food and beverage products and can deliver powerful nutritional enhancement. Suitable for a wide range of applications, they can be applied in nutraceutical health-giving products, as well as foods and beverages. By using products in the Nutrifood® range, it is possible for manufacturers to add that ‘something extra’ that improves the nutritional balance and visual appeal.

They are also free from additives such as artificial vitamins or added preservatives, allowing labels simply to state ‘concentrate’ and the name of the raw material (for ‘pumpkin concentrate’ or ‘tomato concentrate’). Nutrifood® is therefore ideally suited to Clean Label formulations. They also boast excellent processing properties.

Unique Expertise

Another factor that makes Nutrifood® an excellent choice for nutraceuticals, is that GNT employs a team of expert agronomists who ensure that the raw materials are harvested right at the point when their bioactive substance content is optimized. We do not process under-ripe fruits and vegetables that may have been grown out of season, or under glass. Because they are made from fruits and vegetables harvested at optimum ripeness, products in the Nutrifood® range offer high content of bioactive components. In order to ensure that these valuable phytonutrients stay intact, the fruits and vegetables that are the source of Nutrifood® are processed using gentle pressing, crushing, concentrating and filtration. This results in concentrates with a significantly higher phytonutrient content than common juice concentrates. No chemicals are used in the production process, and the products do not contain any chemical preservatives, synthetic nutrients, or other artificial substances.

More than on-trend

While Nutrifood® meets many of the needs of young consumers, it is not just a fashionable on-trend ingredient designed to appeal to Generation Z. Drawing on GNT’s well-established heritage of producing Coloring Foods made from fruit and vegetables, products with Nutrifood® are suitable for any health-conscious consumers seeking a balanced everyday diet.