10. It's no secret that consumers have become quite complex. Those that read National Geographic don't necessarily listen to National Public Radio or have an interest in joining the Sierra Club-they might listen to Howard Stern and not have a care in the world about recycling or global warming. Likewise, instead of fitting into nice, neat categories, consumers seem to be all over the place in terms of their wants and desires when it comes to maintaining a "healthy" lifestyle. Expect population targets to become smaller and more refined-consumers want to be viewed as individuals, so customization will be key.
9. The idea of customization will also spark further discussion on nutrigenomics-the ability to understand individual responses to drugs or nutrients. Some people are highly allergic to certain substances, while others are not. At the same time, some individuals benefit more than others from drugs or nutrients. To understand these differences is a big deal. As the conversation heats up, the nutraceuticals world must figure out where their products and philosophies about personalized nutrition fit in.
8. Nanotechnology will probably go hand in hand with nutrigenomics in light of delivering nutraceutical ingredients as efficiently as possible. This "little" technology will become an even bigger issue as FDA tries to get a handle on the hundreds of consumer products already making use of nanotechnology and what effects (positive or negative) may reveal themselves down the road. For now, it is a field of study that holds wonderful potential, but also a great deal of uncertainty.
7. The positive association between chocolate and health will continue this year. In fact, cereal giants Quaker and Kellogg plan to launch two new products, Life Chocolate Oat Crunch and Special K Chocolatey Delight, respectively, although they don't make any specific claims on the packaging about chocolate content. Other companies interested in riding the chocolate wave should do so with caution. There are many critics of the "healthy chocolate" craze speaking out against its positioning as a health food. And most of them have a point, as not every chocolate product is created equal.
6. It seems the debate surrounding foods being marketed as dietary supplements has resurfaced. Designed with a street drug in mind, an energy drink, aptly named Cocaine, is causing quite a stir in this vein-no pun intended. Caffeine-based supplements and drinks (minus coffee and tea) may become the new ephedra in 2007.
5. The "big guys" are finally jumping into the functional food market with two feet. Driving to be the largest nutrition company, Nestlé may have achieved that status with its recent acquisition of Novartis Medical Nutrition, a producer of healthy foods and supplements. Hot on its heels is Numico, which claims it has plans to develop food products that fight disease, starting with a drink that treats the effects of Alzheimer's in early-stage patients.
4. Mainstream food and beverage companies have taken a public beating when it comes to marketing their products to kids. Look for these companies and others to turn up the volume on healthier offerings, or even better, come out with foods truly formulated with kids' health in mind. This presents new opportunities for those that can figure out how to make nutrition fun, and most important, tasty!
3. The supplement and functional food industries should align themselves with the mainstream medical community to fight current health crises. The mentality of treatment versus prevention is likely to shift in the years ahead and our products should be there when that transition takes place.
2. Adverse event reporting will take center stage this year, as industry figures out how to implement the new supplement AER bill. Passage of this bill was the result of years of hard work between several Congressmen that crossed party lines for the good of supplements. This is probably the single best thing to happen to supplements in a very long time. Goodbye negative press, hello credibility!
1. The fact that dietary supplement GMPs have not been released is borderline ridiculous, in my opinion. Maybe passage of the AER bill will set a trend in getting things done. Let's hope we see these regulations finalized in 2007.