2011, year of the energy shot

In his annual trend study on nutrition and health, author and editor of New Nutrition Business, Julian Mellentin says that 2011 promises to be another "year of the energy shot", adding: "The astonishingly rapid success of energy shots - a market which has grown in the U.S. from zero to over $1 billion in retail sales in six years - reflects the extent to which there are huge areas of untapped opportunities in products for energy.

"There are opportunities to create new brands, new segments and new categories through strategies focusing on groups of consumers who aren't served by the energy drink brands currently available; new ingredients with a higher 'natural and healthy' score than found in the current energy drinks; and new carriers - something other than caffeinated beverages - with better health credentials, such as dairy and fruit juices."

Mellentin also predicts 2011 will be a big year for digestive health, products containing fruit and a micro-trend in protein, which presents opportunities in the fields of weight management and muscle wasting in the elderly.  "The most health- conscious consumers are becoming more aware of the benefits of protein in the diet, while producers of protein, and in particular the dairy industry with its huge annual output of whey proteins, are working hard to find ways to take protein out of the body-builder and elite athlete niche and into wider markets," he writes.

Another micro-trend for 2011 is the Reinvention of Dairy. Despite being criticized in the past for its high saturated fat content, experts and consumers are increasingly acknowledging milk's significant health benefits. "New science suggests that dairy - particularly saturated fat in dairy - has been over-vilified and it is now set to develop an (even) more favorable 'health halo,' he writes. " Evidence is emerging that it may even benefit heart health. This changing perception will gradually lead to more marketing and product development opportunities."

Mellatin also predicts the rise of vitamin D. "Vitamin D is coming into an ever-stronger position - in short supply in the diet and (in the winter months in particular) not available to many people from sunlight.  "At the same time science is growing in support of its benefits. Researchers have posited benefits from vitamin D in many areas, including heart disease, immune function, depression, diabetes, neuromuscular function and osteoarthritis - not to mention its well-established benefits in conjunction with calcium in supporting bone density."