Wellness Food Trends for 2009

Condition-based marketing and parental concern for babies and toddlers will provide opportunities for product developers in the year ahead.

By Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., Technical Editor

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Vitasoy USA Inc. (www.vitasoy-usa.com), Ayers, Mass., manufactures Vitasoy Soymilks to provide a “simple way to adopt healthier eating habits without sacrificing great taste.” Organic Vanilla and Organic Chocolate soymilks allows for easy incorporation into a man’s daily diet.

Vitasoy’s Azumaya brand all-natural tofu and tofu wraps are proving particularly popular with younger men seeking robust health and a longer-lasting head of hair.

Men are still aware of the powerful prostate cancer protection properties of lycopene, the red colored carotenoid naturally occurring in tomatoes, guava, watermelon and pink grapefruit. Lycopene is now employed in soups – one of the most common processed foods in men’s pantries. Camden, N.J.-based Campbell Soup Co.’s Healthy Request (www.campbellsoup.com) may be benefiting from this, as evidenced by double-digit sales growth in the U.S., according to Information Resources Inc., Chicago.

 

In its new batch of products, Pom Wonderful mixed the antioxidants of pomegranate with the pickup of coffee and decadent flavors for an adult, even senior-aimed, drink.
Soy, already popular with women for health benefits, is catching on with men for health issues ranging from prostrate cancer to baldness.

Of special interest to formulators is that, according to Udi Alroy, director of marketing for Lycored Ltd. (www.lycored.com), Orange, N.J., lycopene is stable at elevated temperatures typical of food processing. Its stability over a wide range of pH values makes it especially applicable for beverages, dairy and meal-replacement bars.

While soup is a great delivery vehicle for tomatoes and lycopene, it’s not always convenient. It’s usually eaten from a bowl with a spoon. Enter Cool Soup, a clever soup-in-a-bottle, providing a healthy alternative for eating on the go.

Jacqueline Gartland and Patti Melcher, co-founders of Houston-based Go Appetít (www.goappetit.com), created Cool Soup to satisfy the need for fresh fruit and vegetables for consumers lacking time to shop and chop. Rich Vegetable Gazpacho and Creamy Mango Spice may be toted anywhere in their bottles and consumed at room temperature or chilled. The produce-based soups taste almost like smoothies and are low in calories, using 100-percent natural ingredients and no preservatives, artificial colors or artificial flavors.

And don’t forget cholesterol. While more men than women have high cholesterol, it’s a problem for both sexes. But there is a whole host of recent and coming products to lower the low-density lipoprotein or to raise the high-density lipoprotein. Fiber, particularly from oat bran, has been shown to lower cholesterol, and inulin is being employed as well.

Plant sterols are another cholesterol-busting ingredient. Both Cargill (under its CoroWise brand) and ADM (CardioAid brand) not only are supplying the sterols but are getting food and beverage processors to carry their brand names.

Sunset years

We’ve seen a correlation between the aging population and interest in crafting foods and beverages for today’s different class of seniors. Rolling Stone Mick Jagger isn’t the only one out there proving that, when it comes to basic physical ability and stamina, 65 really is the new 40.

Seniors want the comfort of familiarity in a finished product, as well as products that offer the nutrition and taste their educated palates have grown accustomed to. Products such as whole-grain Minute Brown Rice from Riviana Foods Inc. (www.minuterice.com), Houston, offer both. It has the same nutritional values as long-cooking brown rice, but is ready in one-fourth the amount of time.

Always on the crest of a trend, Los Angeles-based Pom Wonderful is skewing toward an older demographic by aiming at the energy and prostate health targets in addition to its heart-health marketing. To that end, the company created POMx Iced Coffee with a potent dose of caffeine and healthy antioxidants.

POMx Iced Coffee is touted as a sophisticated energy drink for seniors who seek a power boost but typically avoid the excess sugar and artificial ingredients associated with carbonated sodas and other, youth-directed energy drinks. In addition to coffee (and flavors such as chocolate), the product contains the new, patented POMx mixture of pomegranate juice and other polyphenol antioxidants, which appears to be a base for future Pom Wonderful products. The iced coffee also contains Rainforest Alliance-certified beans, rBST-free milk and cane sugar.

Preventive medicine and the idea that “a healthy intestine leads to a long life” are the very essence of the booming probiotics trend, which has become the focus of considerable attention. The issue may have started with seniors, but it’s quickly moving downward in the age demographic to touch all generations. Intestinal health even is being impressed upon children, thanks to products such as Danimals and Danino from Dannon and the Probugs line of whole-milk kefir from Lifeway Foods.

“While consumers might not know the term ‘probiotics,’ they do recognize the benefits of ‘friendly bugs’ in products [such as yogurt, kefir or yogurt-based beverages],” says Joe O’Neill of Beneo-Orafti (www.orafti.com), Morris Plains, N.J.

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