Weight management’s growing influence on supplements, foods, and beverages

Published on: 
Nutritional Outlook, Volume 25, Issue 4

Innova Market Insights discusses how weight management is now a key influence on product launches as consumers focus on health and wellbeing.

Health has driven product development for years now—and it will only continue to do so as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with a renewed awareness of the importance of our own health and wellbeing. Over 65% of consumers worldwide say they are more concerned about their personal health and the health of people close to them in light of the pandemic, according to a 2021 Innova Market Insights consumer survey. Moreover, weight management is the number one factor consumers are accounting for as they aim to improve their health and wellbeing, according to the survey. Judging by the growth in weight-management products and marketing seen in recent years, it’s safe to say that weight management will continue to shape the dietary supplements, food, and drink markets well into the future.

As the global rate of obesity escalates, more products are shifting their target to weight maintenance. The result is a steady rise of new product launches with weight-management claims. Innova Market Insights estimates an 11% average annual growth rate of new products launched with weight-management claims globally between 2017 and 2021.

Supplements and Food

Weight management claims are thriving in both dietary supplements and food/drinks. In the supplements market, such products surged in growth by 46% globally between 2017 and 2021. Food and beverage launches with weight-related claims are also on the rise, albeit with a more modest average annual growth rate of 4% globally between 2017 and 2021.

What are some of the trends taking shape in weight management? Let’s take a look.

Clean, Natural Food Ingredients

Weight-management supplements are turning to natural food ingredients to supply nutrient-rich health benefits as consumers increasingly value real foodstuffs. In the past year, 41% of consumers said they used more natural products, and 30% said they used more organic products, per Innova’s 2021 consumer survey. When it comes to weight management specifically, weight-management supplements with natural claims saw a 42% CAGR globally between 2017 and 2021, while weight-management supplements with organic claims saw a 60% CAGR globally during that same period.

Innovative weight-management ingredients are stemming from the botanical and fruit category. Many functional weight-management ingredients saw substantial average growth rates in 2017-2021 globally, including curcumin (+166%), pomegranate (+124%), bitter melon (+117%), chili (+116%), and buckthorn (+114%).

Gummies Pop Up

Prior to 2017, there were barely any new gummy product launches for weight management. In the years since, however, there has been a burst of weight-management gummies—to the tune of an astounding 236% average annual growth rate globally between 2017 and 2021.

Gummies are the hot area of innovation right now and are gaining on traditional delivery forms. For instance, while classic supplement formats such as capsules and powders remain popular for weight-related supplements, retaining their number-one and -two top spots in the category, gummies now sit close behind in third position.

Gummies not only provide easy access to nutrients for at-home or on-the-go health; they also offer a tastier experience with flavors like strawberry, orange, and mango. Apple is emerging as the top flavor due to the frequently used ingredient apple cider vinegar, which claims to support not only weight loss but also improved digestion, energy, and immunity.

Category Expansion

Even as weight-conscious choices emerge in more categories, sports nutrition still dominates the market, with one in four weight-management products catering to sports customers.

But other categories previously less associated with weight management are now joining the action. This is especially the case when it comes to products like spreads. More spread products now feature a weight-related claim. Although the number of these launches is still relatively small, the weight-management spread category still saw a 24% average annual growth rate in 2017-2021—the highest of all food and beverage categories globally. To appeal to the weight-conscious consumer, companies in the spreads category are now incorporating superfood ingredients, low-glycemic-index sugars, and healthier fats.

This influence may rub off on other product types as well. As weight-conscious options become more readily available for products we already know, consumers will have an easier time regulating and maintaining weight while still enjoying the products they love.

Making Products Healthier

Companies are also revamping existing products to better support customers trying to manage their weight. Weight-management products are more frequently being reformulated these days, at an average annual growth rate of 18% globally in 2017-2021. Brands are focusing on reducing sugar and fat content, with “low sugar” and “no sugar” content claims proliferating. The “low sugar” claim is especially catching on, experiencing an average annual growth rate of 25%, the highest of all ingredient-related health claims globally, in 2017-2021.

Healthy macronutrients like protein and fiber are also gaining attention in relation to weight management. Instead of focusing on calorie restriction, in 2021 almost half (48%) of all products with a weight-management claim also featured a protein content claim, and close to one in three products featured a fiber content claim.

Plant-Based on the Rise

Plant-based is now an important driver in the weight-management product sector. Within weight-management launches, claims related to plant-based diets are common and growing, as predicted by Innova’s “Top Ten Trends for 2022” report.

In that report, we cited the number-two trend as “Plant-Based: The Canvas for Innovation.” Vegan and plant-based claims in the weight-management market are growing the fastest, rising globally at a 35% and 21% CAGR, respectively, in 2017-2021.

Cleaner Labels

“No additives” and “no preservatives” are the most common clean-label claims made in weight management. Clean labels are inherently connected to healthy eating and thereby weight management. More than one in four new product launches feature a “no additives” or “no preservatives” claim nowadays. Other clean-label claims showing up in weight-management launches include “natural” (15% of weight-management launches), “GMO-free” (13%), and “organic” (8%).

Expect consumers’ clean-label demands to continue growing. Consumers remain very interested in such products. Innova’s 2021 consumer survey found that 41% of consumers globally said they had increased their consumption of natural products in the past year, and another 30% said they increased their consumption of organic products.

Lu Ann Williams is cofounder and global insights director at Innova Market Insights, a global market research firm headquartered in The Netherlands. An expert on trends driving the food and beverage industry, she is a frequent speaker at industry events. Thirty years of global experience, data analysis, and trendspotting give her a unique foundation for insights into what’s coming next in the industry in every region of the world.