Smart foods turn healthy trendsetters!

02 August 2021 | Opinion | By Dr Manbeena Chawla

We are seeing a number of young minds coming up with smart ways to to use natural and convenient food ingredients packed either in the form of novel recipes, supplements, snacks or beverages exploring less-touched segments such as women’s health, protein sufficiency, nourishing nibbles and ready-to-drink mixes Image credit: shutterstock Image credit: shutterstock

The food and beverage (F&B) industry is undergoing functional and structural changes by becoming more focused on prevention of chronic diseases than      simply maintaining health. 

With 'immunity-boosters' being established as a separate food category owing to the pandemic, the future is calling for similar ‘smart’ categories emphasizing on different and specific health conditions such as mental well-being, proper sleep, menstruation, healthy skin, etc. using natural ingredients.

Consequently, we are seeing a number of young minds coming up with smart ways to to use natural and convenient food ingredients packed either in the form of novel recipes, supplements, snacks or beverages. These young entrepreneurs are setting in new trends of food and beverage based products which were never heard of earlier.

In fact, when the importance of good immunity became a realization last year, the market got flooded with hundreds of immunity boosters where a majority was contributed by the startups in comparison to the established F&B players.

But of course the development of such smart and specific foods using natural ingredients require extensive R&D, scientific backing and investment. Further, building consumer awareness and trust are other factors to be taken into consideration before such new generation products carve out a niche for themselves in the Indian market.

“For the creation of the concept of smart foods, a more complex and sophisticated processing mechanism is necessary. Thereby, there is a need for insight into the science of these food materials. Moreover, the functional ingredients of this type of food can vary depending upon the consumer's demand. Also, the bioactive compounds are sensitive to processing and environmental factors. To enhance the stability and effectiveness of the bioactive compound in the food system, more knowledge on the science of the bioactive compound as well as operational procedures are required”, says Dr Vaibhav V. Goud, Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati.

Nevertheless, the millennials have started bringing a variety of smart and innovative products into the market with extensive marketing strategies in place, keeping good health of the consumers as the top priority.

“Gen Z is the new wellness consumer who appreciates the goodness of natural and organic health alternatives. One such option is Ayurveda. There is a lot of potential in introducing the new generation to the holistic living methods of Ayurveda, which not only cures the root cause of ailments but also provides a holistic approach to staying healthy”, says Nikhil Maheshwari, Directors of Operations, Maheshwari Pharmaceuticals India, Ghaziabad.

 

Giving attention to women’s health

Every month, the majority of women go through hormonal changes that affect their health, skin, hair, fitness and mind, but till recently there have been no good products for her. There has been a lack of conversations and solutions available so far. Adding a ray of hope, few startups have lately brought in a new trend by developing specific products for women.

For instance, Mumbai-based startup Nyumi, incepted in 2020, has launched critical products specifically formulated for the urban Indian woman. Nyumi is the first company to address the specific issues of nutrient deficiencies in Indian women through products that blend Indian herbs and western ingredients in the form of vegan, gluten and allergen-free gummies. The initial product portfolio targets the most prevalent women-centric issues: immunity, hair, skin, sleep and urinary tract wellness.

Providing more information about these products, Ananya Kejriwal Agarwal, Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer, Nyumi, Mumbai says, “Each gummy is manufactured using state-of-the-art German processes and expert know-how, without any artificial colour or flavours. They are designed to help a woman strike a balance between urban lifestyle and self-care with an offering that is easy to understand and integrate into their busy, hectic lives as a habit of choice, in line with the philosophy of the company itself. Our gummies blend time-tested Indian herbs such as amla, haldi and tulsi with western nutrients like biotin and hyaluronic acid.“

Further, revolutionising the way women manage menstrual health, New Delhi-based startup Power Gummies, established in 2018, has launched a unique variant of its popular gummies called ‘That Time of The Month Gummies’. These are aimed at encouraging women to take care of their menstrual and hormonal health.

 

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