Tackling the obesity crisis among children has become a major focus of governments throughout the world as they try to reduce salt and sugar in food and drinks, and increasingly look at ways of regulating the industry through measures of taxation.
The UK government introduced a Soft Drinks Industry Levy, dubbed a ‘sugar tax’, in Spring 2018. The tax led to more than half of manufacturers reducing the sugar content of their drinks, while those manufacturers which didn’t were forced to pay a levy of 24p per litre (if the drink contained 8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres) and 18p per litre (if it contained between 5-8 grams). The tax is forecast to raise €270m a year which will, in part, go towards the creation of a Healthy Pupils capital fund to help schools upgrade their sports facilities, as well as invest in healthy breakfast clubs.
Other policies being considered by governments include the removal of snacks high in sugar, saturated fats and sodium from vending machines.
Some countries, such as France, have even banned vending machines from schools and some US states have banned fizzy drinks in middle and elementary schools. California recently passed legislation to extend this ban to high schools.
France has taken a particularly firm stance against obesity. School lunches are available to all and consist of three small, balanced courses, along with plain water. The food is as fresh as possible and usually cooked on site with menus checked by dieticians. The approach seems to be working as obesity rates in France are among the lowest of countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Meanwhile governments are also increasingly aware of the proven links between nutrition and academic performance, with many nutrients having proven cognitive effects throughout a person’s life.
Governments have realised that it is not enough to simply give children more fruit and vegetables, the food also has to taste good. For vegetables to be able to compete with fast food that is high in additives, they need to be fresh and cooked in interesting and tasty ways.
Such thinking has spawned an array of start-ups which focus on nutritious dishes for children. For instance, Yumble is a US meal delivery start-up for children offering healthy lunches, dinners and snacks. The company sources seasonal, local and organic ingredients where possible and serves meals featuring a variety of vegetables, grains, proteins, fats, herbs and spices.
Yumble recently closed a funding round led by Sonoma Brands with Danone Manifesto Ventures also participating. As Laurent Marcel, Managing Director of Danone Manifesto Ventures, says: “Since we started our venture activity two years ago we have looked at many opportunities around childhood nutrition and are excited by the disruption Yumble brings, sitting at the intersection of an emerging direct-to-consumer channel, offering fresh, healthy meals that kids love with a relatable brand for millennial parents.”
The sports nutrition market is going through a period of huge growth as its appeal moves beyond the avid gym-goer to a much wider audience.
Snack bar manufacturers are making their products healthier, adding protein and fibre into their goods.
At the same time the science behind sports nutrition is now extending into other foods such as biscuits, snacks and pizzas, thereby creating entire new categories. As manufacturers make healthier versions of a range of grocery products, this drives further significant innovation in the market.
China, where the sports and fitness market is forecast1 to top $725bn (€636bn) by 2025, is a particularly good example of the huge potential for growth. Amid fears over obesity levels, China’s growing middle class is adopting a more active and healthy lifestyle and is willing to spend on fitness and health related products. For instance, Science in Sport, a UK player which produces drinks, energy gels and other products, recently announced it would launch an online store on Alibaba’s TMall global store platform.
Irish group Glanbia, whose performance nutrition brands include Optimum Nutrition, BSN, Isopure, thinkThin and Nutramino, is a good example of a business that has positioned itself at the heart of these fast-moving consumer trends.
Whether it’s a protein smoothie, a pre-workout energy drink, a post work-out protein shake, or an on-the-go protein bar, it says both professional athletes and everyday fitness enthusiasts are increasingly buying their products.
Snack bar demand
With an increasing awareness among consumers on healthy eating, snack bars have become immensely popular, replacing chocolates, cakes, and biscuits as go-to snacks. At the same time snack bar manufacturers are making their products healthier, adding protein and fibre into their goods.
Demand is not just coming from sports enthusiasts but also from consumers with vegan lifestyles opting for healthy substitutes for meat, dairy and other conventional sources of protein.
The sports and fitness market in China is forecast to top €636bn.
A recent report2 concluded that global demand is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, particularly driven by increasing demand for high-protein snack bars, with the market forecast to grow at a CAGR of 6.7% from 2018 to 2023.
It added that the market also remains fragmented. Leading players include Quaker, Nature Valley, Natural Balance Foods, Naked Foods, Kellogg, KIND Snacks, General Mills, Frank Food, Fiber One and Concord Foods.