Digestive health claims grow despite tightening legislation

Innova Market Insights

Wednesday, 22 April, 2015


Tightening legislation around nutritional claims - particularly in Europe - has set back product activity in the digestive or gut health segment. However, despite these difficulties, digestive health claims continue to grow. In 2014, more than 3.2% of products launched carried digestive health claims, up from 2.7% in 2009.

While product activity in this segment rose in the US from 3.3 to 3.6% over the same period, it declined slightly in Europe, from 2.4 to 2.2%.

As nutritional claims become more difficult to make, companies are increasingly focusing on the use of specific ingredients like wholegrains and fibre that are already linked with gut health in many consumers’ minds, according to Innova Market Insights.

Claims of high fibre content or ‘source of fibre’ were used on nearly 3.4% of product launches in 2014, according to Innova’s records. In the US this sat at 4.6%. Wholegrain claims were used in 2% of product launches globally, rising to 3.4% in the US.

“There is clearly still interest in products for digestive or gut health,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “This is reflected in ongoing levels of product activity, despite some of the current regulatory issues affecting health claims, particularly in Europe.”

Companies are using more general health and wellness positionings for their products, Williams said.

“They are relying more on existing consumer awareness of ingredients such as probiotics and fibre, the health benefits that they offer and the kinds of food and drinks products that they can be found in,” she said.

New bread products in particular tend to feature high-fibre claims, with 15% of new bread products using high-fibre claims compared to 9% in savoury biscuits and 5% in sweet biscuits.

Breakfast biscuits have led the high-fibre product claims activity in recent years. Virtually all of these products are marketed as high in fibre and/or whole grains. Their popularity in the UK, Germany, the US and Australia has prompted a revitalisation of existing breakfast biscuit markets in countries such as France and Spain.

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