Peter Wennstrom, founder of innovation consultancy Healthy Marketing Team (HMT), recently told NutraIngredients the market has witnessed a "paradigm shift" which is seeing us move from a food versus pharma world, to “a world where nutrition and food are at the heart of everything”.
What's more, Mintel recently revealed that consumers are choosing food and drink they believe will have a direct impact on their wellbeing.
NutraIngredients spoke to some of the entrepreneurs in this space to find out what they think of the food versus pills debate.
Stipe Rezic, founder of the brain-boosting mushroom coffee brand Mushroom Cups, decided to put the health benefits of mushrooms into hot drinks when his father, who worked in the chemical industry, was
suffering with bad allergies.
He says changing the delivery format of the mushroom extract was his father's saving grace.
“My cousin, who has a degree in biology and chemistry, made a supplement with mushrooms. But my father would forget to take them so I put them into his coffee and he had that every morning and afternoon and after one month of drinking that all his rashes were gone.
“Implementing medicinal nutrients in existing daily routines was the key to painlessly make the transition.”
Helenor Rogers, co-founder of the prebiotic fibre packed granola and syrup brand Troo Foods, agrees adding that it’s familiarity of format that will ultimately help people incorporate nutritionally superior food into their diets for the rest of their lives.
“At Troo, we think it is essential to deliver nutrition in the right format. For us this is as ‘real food’ – we want people to incorporate nutritionally superior food into their everyday lives and we believe familiarity of format will help them do this.
"If you want to maximise compliance you need to make it easy for consumers to incorporate good nutrition into their daily lives and for many people through everyday food is the best option."
"Consumers are used to taking supplements or medication for a set, short term period to ‘solve a problem’ we don’t want them to do this with Troo. We want the to make better food choices for the whole of their life, so the format has to be something they can access on a daily basis.
"Pills, capsules and powders will always have their place; but they are not for all and for many they are not a life choice."
Elin Traustadottir, founder of Wellness Lab, sells a range of collagen and probiotic powders and she says ease of consumption is a major benefit for her brand as people can add her products to their favourite food and drink.
She believes many people think pills are unnecessary as awareness of the health benefits of good nutrition through real food is better than ever.
"There's a growing group of people out there that think gone are they days where one needed to take pill food supplements, as one should be able to consume it in the foods and drinks."
She says her consumers want to feel they are consuming natural products without any "hidden nasties", which aren't attributes usually associated with pills.
“More and more of my customers are aware of what they put in their body and they expect products and product labels to be transparent about contents," she said.
"They don't want the extra and the additives, just the pure and raw ingredients hence I focus on powders so that I can keep the products as raw as possible.
"Consumers are becoming more interested in functional foods that are made without the use of preservatives, added colouring or flavouring etc."
Rezic adds that taking ingredients in this way is 'simply much more pleasant' and may help to make a person feel healthier, as pills are associated with sickness.
“For me, pills are associated with being sick. While having a tasty coffee, cocoa or a smoothie with additional nutrients with medicinal properties makes it a totally different experience.
“It is a compelling argument for your brain that instantly translates to improvement in your attitude and mood."
Rogers warns that, while this trend is a great opportunity for innovators, food and drink manufacturers are going to find that consumers are going to become far more discerning about the ingredients in their products.
"We believe all food manufacturers have a moral obligation to look at their ingredients list and question the inclusion of every item – who are they benefiting and why are they included?" she asks.
"If there not in the interest of the consumer and they come with a potential health implication they should be removed."