As a result of COVID-19, the market for immunity-enhancing ingredients and products across the food and beverage industry skyrocketed. Consumers saw the pandemic as a wake-up call to start being more proactive with regards to their health & wellbeing, and brands noticed this opportunity in the market to develop products to suit this new need.
According to Innova Market Insights, six out of 10 consumers are increasingly seeking food and beverage products that support immune health.
From a brand’s point of view, understanding which ingredients are best able to complement this consumer need is important when designing new products or reformulating existing ones, as it will allow you to become top of mind and first choice during the consumer shopping experience.
HOW TO CLAIM IMMUNITY BENEFITS?
While many nutrients and ingredients can potentially support our immune system, not all of them have been studied with any or enough scientific evidence to demonstrate a strong positive impact on our health.
Consequently, European Union regulations allow for the claim “contribute to the normal function of the immune system” to be associated with the following list of nutrients only, where a serving exceeds 15% of the recommended daily intake:
Vitamins A, B12, B6, C and D
TOP 4 IMMUNITY-BOOSTING INGREDIENT CATEGORIES
With that in mind, let’s look deeper into some of the specific immunity-boosting ingredients that can be found in the ice cream industry today.
Immunity-enhancing ingredients can be classified under four major categories, even though some overlaps may exist between these:
1. HERBALS / BOTANICALS
This category includes all substances obtained or derived from a plant which are reputed to have a positive impact on your immune system, such as:
ECHINACEA remains one of the most popular botanicals, with studies showing that extract from the flowering plant may destroy an influenza virus. Check out here how DERINICE has developed a process to integrate echinacea flower extract within a frozen dessert.
GREEN TEA is said to prevent the flu and some cold viruses thanks to the tea catechins and antioxidants it contains.
CITRUS, lemons and oranges for example, due to their high level of vitamin C.
ELDERBERRY, which boasts strong antioxidant and “flu-fighting” properties.
BLUEBERRIES contain anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties, and is said to strengthen your respiratory tract’s immune system.
TURMERIC is one of the foods with the highest antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, in particular its active ingredient, curcumin, considered to have anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.
HONEY is probably the most common immunity boosting ingredient due to the phytonutrients it contains which are responsible for its antioxidant properties, as well as its antibacterial and antifungal power. Not all honey products are equal, however: some flowers provide more benefits – have a look at manuka honey. Raw honey is also said to be more nutritious as the further processing reduces the quantity of nutrients.
Prebiotics are compounds in food that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, mostly in the gastrointestinal tract. More and more research is confirming that this microbiome plays a key role in our immune function. Prebiotics may also be labelled as dietary fibres in some geographies.
Examples of prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, and seaweed to name just a few. Generally speaking, dietary prebiotics can be found in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.
Probiotics are microorganisms (such as the Lactobacillus contained in yogurt) that, when consumed, maintain or restore beneficial bacteria to the digestive tract.
Probiotic foods include kefir, yogurt with live active cultures, fermented vegetables, and kombucha tea.
4. VITAMINS / MINERALS SUPPLEMENTS
Primarily Vitamin C, D and Zinc.
IMMUNITY-BOOSTING ICE CREAM?
Even though claiming that eating ice cream will reinforce your immune system can be a long stretch, some brands have not hesitated in adding superfood ingredients to their product recipes in order to add their immunity-enhancing properties to their list of claims.
In India, ice cream brand, DAIRY DAY, released an ‘immunity range’ of ice creams including flavours such as Turmeric and Chyawanprash (a 41+ herb formulation) which are said to be powerful immunity-enhancing ingredients, although unusual flavour choices for ice cream.
Remaining in the Indian market, AMUL launched HALDI ice cream last year which contains added turmeric (known as ‘Haldi’), an ingredient hailed for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, the ice cream also includes honey which is renowned as a cure for sore or dry throats.
In the US, ENLIGHTENED launched a “Coconut + Immunity” frozen bar, containing a botanical immunity blend made of elderberry (high in vitamin C), hibiscus (high in antioxidants) and aloe vera.
In Indonesia, AICE, the Singaporean company, released an immunity ice cream which contains egg (for vitamins A and D), milk and honey as a solution to boost the body’s immune system! Further proof that the source of immunity-enhancing nutrients may vary per geography and is strongly dependent on local tastes and preferences.
It is interesting to note that flavour combinations like these in the ice cream or frozen dessert industry would never have been a viable possibility pre-pandemic, although it demonstrates the market’s ability to rapidly change, and reinforces the need for agile innovation when it comes to brands and manufacturers.
With the above in mind, this new acceptance of unusual ingredients and flavours in ice cream could open up the door for new co-branding possibilities between brands and manufacturers across different industry segments. For example, health & wellness companies collaborating with ice cream brands to include immunity-enhancing ingredients such as wheatgrass, ginger, elderberry, or beetroot in their ice cream innovations.
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Founded by former executives in the Ice Cream industry, INNODELICE aims to create a worldwide ecosystem of solutions within the frozen dessert industry. Thanks to the relationships fostered by INNODELICE, manufacturers, brands, importers, distributors and suppliers can discover, buy and sell solutions to GROW their business. These solutions include co-manufactured and branded products as well as innovative and competitive ingredients, packaging and services. Our collaboration model generates lower costs and fewer risks for our participating partners while optimising their time to market. To learn more about INNODELICE, contact Nicolas MARIE (firstname.lastname@example.org), Andrea MONTREUIL (email@example.com) or visit www.innodelice.com.