Trends that will dominate the natural products space can fall into two categories: Larger macrotrends that are already well-established and rife with product development, or microtrends. SPINS senior manager of natural insights and innovation research Jessica Hochman described the latter as “ideas that we think are moving into macrotrend space, things we’re really watching.”
Together with SPINS director of industry insights Brent Coons, the duo presented the company’s forecasts on Wednesday at an event organized by the Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network.
Spanning multiple categories from snacks to sweets to supplements, here are the top trends SPINS highlighted for the dietary supplement industry:
Macrotrend: Mighty Mitochondria
According to Coons, 2019 is the year that mitochondria will come out as “an aspect of our bodies that folks start to pay attention to in terms of how it relates to health and wellness.”
“Mitochondria are the root of our energy production in humans and pretty much most species on this planet,” he said.
Coons attributed the rise of mitochondrial interest to the keto set—people who follow a low-carb, high-fat diet so that the body burns fat for energy instead of glucose.
“A lot of the keto influencers and lifestyle folks really talking about mitochondria,” he explained, “About how the ATP energy transfer cycle happen at the cellular level, getting energy from fat instead of glucose, a variety of aspects like that.”
This trend has revived interest in what Coons calls “classic supplements by heritage brands,” which includes L-carnitine, CoQ10, creatine, alpha lipoic acid, and PQQ.
“L-Carnitine, for example, is required to transfer the fat molecule into the mitochondria to be burned as energy. The body can produce it, but especially as we age, that process starts to decline a little bit,” he said.
“So overall, there’s a lot of theories and studies being done around mitochondria, and how it might relate to aging and various diseases. So a lot of focus and attention in this area.”
Additionally, though it is still too early to tell, Coons expects more ingredients as mentioned above may cross over into functional food and beverage, following the overall industry trend of moving away from pills.
Macrotrends: Better Sleep
“We’re all spending more time in front of screens and it shouldn’t be a surprise if we find it hard to fall asleep and switch off at night” said Hochman.
From that, the natural products industry is answering that call “both in terms of ingredients and ingredient combinations as well as also delivery.”
Examples of innovation in this space comes in dosing and serving sizes, such as what Snooze is doing, a 4.6 fl oz beverage.
“I’ve seen several enter the space in that size that’s not quite a wellness shot, not a full-sized ready-to-drink functional beverage,” she said. “It definitely has its supplement roots and a supplements facts panel in the back, but that small-format beverage is something [new] to drink before you go to bed.”
In products formulated this way, Hochman sees many core natural ingredients like valerian and chamomile used, “but also interesting blends of lemon balm and passion flower and a few other things.”
There has also been a rise in mouth spray formats, Hochman said. One example is in Garden of Life’s Mind Kind of Organics line. “It has a blend of herbs as well as L-Theanine, which is an amino acid we’re seeing used for several different health focuses, often promoted for focus, promoted for calm with cognitive associations,” she said.
The format that surprised the analysts the most for the sleep category was clarified butter. One example on the market is Pure Indian Foods. “I’m sure most people in the room are familiar with ghee clarified butter as a cooking oil, but this is actually a ghee as a supplement,” she said.
The active ingredient is brahmi, the Ayurvedic name for waterhyssop or Bacopa monnieri, an ingredient often used in cognitive health supplements.
“We see ghee in Bulletproof butter coffees a lot, so one of these types of products may fit in that kind of trend as well,” Coons added.
Microtrends: Wildcrafting, keto-supplements, and CBD
Coons and Hochman spent the last portion of their presentation covering trends that they think are inching their way into the mainstream.
Wildcrafting is one, a term used to describe herbs collected from the wild instead of farmed and grown from branded, patented seeds. According to Coons, the Paleo trend was a precursor of interest in wildcrafting, as more consumers are associating a lifestyle closer to hunter-gatherer to health benefits.
CBD is also an obvious buzzword. “For this year, we’re really watching beverages in particular,” Hochman said. Supplements that want to innovate in the CBD space should keep in mind, however, that even though hemp and its derivatives have been lifted from Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act, CBD is still not a legal dietary ingredient because it is the basis of a newly approved drug Epidiolex.
Finally, Coons described 2019 to be a break-out year for supplements, especially electrolytes, that use keto-positioning. These products will focus on stripping away sugar from supplement categories where sugar has been a staple, such as performance nutrition and immune support.