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Vitafoods Europe 2017 – Official Event Preview

Political and economic uncertainties have failed to dent optimism in the nutrition industry, research carried out exclusively for Vitafoods Europe 2017, the global nutraceutical event, has shown.

There has been speculation about the impact that political shocks such as Brexit will have on the industry. But research by the organisers of Vitafoods Europe (taking place between 9 and 11 May in Palexpo, Geneva) paints an overwhelmingly positive picture, with excitement about consumer awareness and developing markets on the rise.

Visitors to the event* were asked how they felt about the future of their businesses in terms of sales performance and profitability. Nearly nine in ten (88%) said they felt either very positive or quite positive. When the same question was asked last year, 87% said they were either very or quite positive, suggesting that industry optimism has not diminished over the past twelve months.

Chris Lee, Managing Director, Global Health and Nutrition Network, Europe, Informa Exhibitions said:

“It’s a sign of the resilience and resourcefulness of our industry that even in a period of political uncertainty, companies are focusing on opportunities rather than problems. With consumers increasingly interested in nutrition, markets opening up across the world, and innovative new ingredients emerging, there’s a lot to be excited about. Vitafoods Europe helps visitors understand those opportunities and make the most of them. But there will always be challenges too, and part of our role is to support the industry in meeting them.”

Given the mood of optimism, it seems fitting that this year’s Vitafoods Europe, the global nutraceutical event, is expected to be the biggest ever. The first event took place in 1997 – there were 100 exhibitors, and just over 1000 attendees. This year there are expected to be over 1000 exhibitors and over 18,500 visitors. The stature of Vitafoods Europe has grown too. It is firmly established as the place to be for anyone who wants to do business, source new ingredients and products, learn and network in the global nutraceutical industry. They will have access to a range of attractions across four key market areas: ingredients & raw materials, branded finished products, contract manufacturing & private label, and services & equipment.

Helping the Industry Explore Opportunities

As well as being a key sourcing event, Vitafoods Europe helps visitors make the most of opportunities and overcome challenges. Both the main trade show and the newly revamped Vitafoods Education Programme offer a wealth of expert advice.

When asked to name the three biggest opportunities for their companies, over half the survey respondents (53%) identified increased consumer awareness of nutrition, up from 50% last year, and a third (33%) chose growth in developing markets – up from 24%.  Four in ten (41%) cited innovation through new ingredients.

Vitafoods Europe is the place to discover and explore these opportunities. Year on year, businesses use the event as a platform for launches, and hundreds of new ingredients will be exhibited and demonstrated at this year’s event, 90 of them in the New Ingredients Zone alone.

There will also be plenty of innovation on show in the New Products Zone, and theSpringboard Pavilion will provide a space to engage with entrepreneurs at the cutting edge of the nutrition sector. For visitors who like their information bite-sized, the unique Vitafoods Launchpad will offer concise, highly focused exhibitor presentations about the latest products and ingredients.

New for 2017, the Vitafoods Innovation Centre, in association with analyze & realize, will offer free consultations on product development, scientific marketing, licensing opportunities, regulation and market access. Visitors who take advantage of the Innovation Tours in association with NutriMarketing will be able to take a guided tour around carefully selected exhibitors. And for those who prefer to find their own way round, four self-guided Discovery Trails will show the way to Sports Nutrition suppliers; New Exhibitors; Exhibitors looking for Distributors; and Advice and Expertise.

Last year, one in five visitors to Vitafoods Europe listed probiotics as one of the categories they were most interested in, and this will be the focus of the new Probiotics Resource Centre in association with the International Probiotics Association.  This dedicated knowledge hub will enable visitors to understand everything there is to know about Probiotics – from the latest breakthroughs in technology to analysis of consumer trends.

As well as showcasing new products and ingredients, Vitafoods Europe helps visitors learn more about the markets in which they operate, with hundreds of industry figures offering valuable business insights, as well as addressing complex legal, regulatory, and ethical issues. In the Market & Trend Overview, experts from Innova Market Insights will explain the latest innovations and emerging industry trends. Topics will include the Top 10 trends for 2017, Cognitive Health, and Heart Health. Visitorsto Vitafoods Centre Stage will hear from expert speakers including Inga Koehler of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare who will address upper limits for vitamins and minerals in Europe.

Meanwhile, the Life Stages Theatre will review the bespoke nutrient requirements needed throughout the stages of a person’s life. Elsewhere, the Exhibitor Presentation Theatre will showcase 35 presentations from a wide range of global exhibitors. Experts from around the world will also be sharing results from clinical trials and research projects through Poster Presentations.

For those enjoy the competitive side of things, the Vitafoods Venture Den will be an informal, fast-paced pitching competition for entrepreneurial businesses looking to raise finance and forge strategic partnershipsAnd 15 professionally screened companies will be seeking investors or strategic partners in the NCN Investor Meeting, in association with Nutrition Capital Network. Meanwhile, the NutraIngredients Awards will take place for the third time.

Vitafoods Europe is very much a global affair. Last year visitors travelled from 114 different countries, and this year’s event will host companies and ingredients from six continents. There will be 12 International Pavilions – more than ever before – with dedicated spaces for exhibitors from Germany and Canada for the first time.

Helping companies solve problems

As well as allowing companies to explore and understand opportunities, Vitafoods Europe helps them deal with the challenges they face.

Foremost among these, the survey suggests, is stricter regulation, which was identified as a challenge by 44% of survey respondents.

Visitors with any questions about regulation, certification, market research or product development will be able to have a one-on-one consultation with experts in The Advice Centre. Meanwhile, Vitafoods Centre Stage will host a keynote panel discussion about the impact of EU regulation on innovation in the ingredient sector. Speakers will include Petr Mensik, EU Affairs Manager at EU Specialty Food Ingredients and Beate Kettlitz, Director of Food Policy, Science and R&D at Food Drink Europe.

The Vitafoods Europe Education Programme – Tailored Content for Everyone’s Needs

The Vitafoods Europe Education Programmewill run alongside the exhibition. Previously known as the Vitafoods Europe Conference, itwill deliver targeted, high-value content focused on delegates’ individual business roles.

Based on feedback from last year, the Programme will be separated into three distinct platforms to give delegates more flexibility to access content aligned with their particular areas of interest. For those seeking high-level technical knowledge, there will be seven R&D Forums which will showcase the latest applied nutrition science. Each will be dedicated to particular ingredients: Omega-3s, phytosterols, polyphenols, vitamins, dietary fibres, proteins and ingredients from India. The Forums will be delivered by world-leading experts, including Prof. Dr. Clemens von Schacky of Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich who will explain “Why you want to have a high HS-Omega-3 Index” and Dr Anna-Marjah Aura of the VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland, who will discuss dietary fibre-intestinal microbiome interactions.

A series of Business Workshops will present best practice for business growth, market access and streamlined supply chains for management and senior-level professionals in sales and marketing. Each of the sessions will focus on one of four key areas: ingredient registration and regulation; market insights and trends; marketing strategies; and botanicals. Speakers will include Professor Vittorio Silano, Professor, Medical School, II University of Rome, and Chairman of the EFSA Scientific Committee Working group on Botanicals.

The full-day Probiotics Summit, produced with the assistance of the International Probiotics Association, will explore the current market and regulatory environment, as well as the latest developments in R&D. Speakers will include new IPA EU Executive Director, Rosanna Pecere, and Professor Michael Messora of the University of São Paulo.

An eye on future trends

Part of the role of Vitafoods Europe is to help the industry prepare for opportunities approaching on the horizon, and the survey suggests that personalised nutrition is the next big trend to look out for.

Visitors were asked what they saw as the three most important trends for the industry. For the short term (over the next 12 months) personalised nutrition was picked by one in five respondents (19%). However, when they were asked to think about the long term (the next three years) over a third (35%) identified it as an important trend. The figures reflect the emergence of new possibilities such as individualised dietary guidelines, wearable technology, and personalised nutrition based on genetic testing.

These will be among the topics discussed in one of the Business Workshops in the Vitafoods Europe Education Programme, with experts from New Nutrition Business UK explaining why “personalisation is the new normal.” In the exhibition, it will be the focus of a panel discussion titled ‘Health by Design: The Future of Personalised Nutrition’ where speakers will include Dr Astrid Stuckelberger of the Institute of Global Health at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva.

Back by Popular Demand

Naturally, many of the attractions that have proved a hit in recent years will be making a comeback at Vitafoods Europe 2017.

After a successful debut in 2015, the Omega-3 Resource Centre,run in association with Omega-3 experts, GOED (the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3) has become a popular draw. Visitors will be able to hear expert presentations on market trends and on the latest R&D, including current expert thinking on the roles of Omega-3s in human physiology. They will also be able to sample a wide range of ingredients and products from GOED members.

The growth of sports nutrition as a category has been a significant industry success story in recent years, and will be an important focus at this year’s event.Dr Adam Carey, Chair of the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA), will chair a panel discussion on Vitafoods Centre Stage titled ‘A New Era of Innovation in Sports Nutrition’. More experts will be on hand in the Sports Nutrition Zone, which enjoyed a successful debut in 2016. This year the Zone will be sponsored by Friesland Campina DMVD and will include product showcases and a sampling bar. Visitors will also be able to access one-to-one Sports Nutrition Regulation Advice - specifically on sports nutrition supplements.

Other popular features returning in 2017 include the Vitafoods Tasting Centre, where attendees will be able to experience new functional foods and beverages for specific health needs, and the Packaging Innovation Centre, which will cover advances in packaging technology, with a focus on design, delivery systems, convenience, labelling and sustainability.

However you feel about what else is happening in the world, there is no doubt that this is an exciting time to be in the nutrition industry. And with a diversity of new ingredients on show, as well as access to expert advice and the latest scientific information, Vitafoods Europe is the place to explore the opportunities ahead for your business.

For more information about visiting and exhibiting at Vitafoods Europe 2017 visit

*Survey of 143 people who have visited Vitafoods Europe in the past, and / or will visit the 2017 event. Conducted between 6 December 2016 and 3 February 2017.

Name Your Price: Nearly three quarters of consumers will pay extra for ingredients they recognise

As many as 73% of consumers are happy to pay a higher retail price for a food or drink product made with ingredients they recognise and trust, according to new research.

In a survey of 1,300 consumers across Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, commissioned by specialist PR agency Ingredient Communications[1], more than half of respondents (52%) said they would spend over 10% more on a food or drink product that contained ingredients they recognised and trusted. Meanwhile,nearly a fifth (18%) said they would pay 75% or more extra.

In addition, overall, more than three quarters of respondents (76%) said they would be more likely to buy a product that contained ingredients they recognised and trusted.

The findings of the survey, which was conducted by leading online market researchers Surveygoo, underline the growing importance of clean and clear labelling and the use of ingredients that are familiar to consumers. They also suggest that there is a significant opportunity to harness the potential of co-branding between food and beverage manufacturers and their ingredients suppliers.

Richard Clarke, Director of Ingredient Communications, said: “Co-branding of ingredients in the food and beverage industry is still fairly unusual, and yet our survey suggests it would resonate with many consumers. We have seen the power of the ‘Intel Inside’ concept in the home computer market. If it works for selling laptops, then why not food and drink? Co-branding can develop consumer trust and provide a clear signpost for differentiation, which can be converted into higher spend, loyalty and repeat purchases.”

He added: “Marketing finished products that contain ‘branded’ ingredients that consumers recognise could be key to commanding a substantial price premium in-store. One barrier to co-branding is a perception among food and beverage companies that it reduces their ability to shop around among suppliers of raw materials to achieve the best price. However, with consumers willing to pay such large price premiums for products made with ingredients they know, this factor might easily be offset by increased sales and profits.”

Consumers in the US were willing to pay the highest prices – with 44% stating that they would pay 75% or more extra for ingredients they recognised and trusted. This was followed by consumers in India (32%), the Philippines (29%) and Malaysia (26%), indicating a strong preference for recognisable ingredients among consumers in Asia.

Neil Cary, Founder of Surveygoo Market Research Consultancy, said: “Our survey reveals significant convergence in the way consumers across the globe share similar priorities in sourcing and consuming high quality foods. However, there are also key differences between markets. Willingness to pay more for recognisable ingredients is strongest in the US, highlighting the importance of clean and clear labelling in the American market. Asian consumers also put a very high value on the quality of their food and are willing to pay a premium for the best ingredients, even though average incomes are lower.”

The survey found recognition of ingredients to be one of the biggest drivers of product choice, with more than half of respondents (52%) considering it to be an important factor. This was comparable with an ability to see nutrition information on-pack (considered important by 53%) and acceptability of price (55%).

An ability to recognise ingredients by name was rated more important than both an ability to tell that a product was high quality (selected by 32%) and taste (50%).




For further information please contact:

Steve Harman, Ingredient Communications

Tel: +44 (0) 1293 886444 | +44 (0) 7494 307911

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


About Ingredient Communications

Based near London, Ingredient Communications specialises in global PR & communications for suppliers of ingredients to the food, beverage, dietary supplement and personal care sectors. To find out more, visit


About Surveygoo

Surveygoo are market research consultants, specialising in online quantitative surveys. They design, programme and run online surveys using proprietary tools, and operate panels in the UK and Asia-Pacific. They work with small and large enterprises, with a strong track record helping Marketing and PR agencies. Surveygoo is owned by Asia Opinions Ltd, a provider of online surveys and panel services in Asia-Pacific. Find out more at


[1]Survey of 1,300 consumers (500 in the UK, 200 in India, 50 in the US, 100 in Malaysia, 50 in Australia, 50 in Canada, 50 in New Zealand, 200 in the Philippines, 100 in Singapore) conducted between 19 and 26 October 2016


Unilever's plan to grow in 2017 – 6 things to learn

Unilever delivered sluggish sales but stronger-than-expected margins when it reported its full-year results today (26 January). The company's revenue was buffeted by issues like demonetisation in India and economic crisis in Brazil during the tail-end of 2016. While management believes such headwinds will lead to a slower start to 2017 - an outlook that hit Unilever's shares today - the group does expect things to pick up as the year progresses. just-food take a look at Unilever's strategy for growth this year.

Building profitability in refreshments 

Unilever's refreshments business, which includes ice cream brands such as Magnum and Ben & Jerry's, has been a solid top-line performer within the company's portfolio for some time. During 2016, while sales dropped 1.1% on currency exchange, underlying sales rose 3.5%. 

However, this growth rate slowed significantly in the fourth quarter, dipping to just 0.4% as the unit witnessed a 3.2% decrease in underlying volumes. 

Nevertheless, speaking during a media call today, Unilever CEO Paul Polman insisted ice cream remains "one of our best performing units". He added: "We have grown share significantly in ice cream... We are building share in all of our categories. Especially in our out-of-home Ben & Jerry's is doing extremely well, Magnum is doing extremely well... Talenti, that we bought, is up about 60% since we became associated with them."

In particular, Unilever's ice cream operations have focused on expanding in the premium parts of the market and the strategy is allowing the group to strengthen the segment's operating performance. The annual operating profit from refreshments rose 15.2% to EUR968m as the group expanded its operating profit margin from 8.3% in 2015 to 9.7% last year. 

CFO Graeme Pitkethly explained: "In our refreshment business we are finding new ways to build the equity of our brands through retail operations for example." 

As a result of stronger cash flow generation and operating profitability, Polman revealed the business's return on invested capital is "coming much closer" to the group average which stood at 17.9% this year. 

Green shoots for food

Unilever's food business, which has seen successive years of decline led by its spreads brands, saw sales fall by 3% in 2016. However, the decline slowed to 1.1% in the fourth quarter, with underlying sales up 1.9% in the period.

While food margins decreased 30 basis points, Unilever suggested that was primarily the consequence of restructuring costs. 

Unilever said what it called a "sustained return to growth" was supported by "good performances" in dressings and savoury. "Hellmann's and Knorr both delivered another year of strong growth by successfully modernising their ranges with extensions into organic variants and with packaging that highlights the naturalness of their ingredients," the company said. 

In particular, management flagged innovation at Knorr and Hellmann's feed into some of Unilever's core growth strategies: delivering sustainable products that meet local needs at a faster pace. 

Sustainability as growth driver, claims Unilever

"We see evidence that sustainability can be a driver of growth. Those brands which meet the high standards we set for social environmental impact actually grew significantly faster than the rest," Polman explained. 

"Take Knorr, which is one of our best-performing brands right now and growing 4%-plus when most of the food companies are reporting declines in this market. A couple of things we do with Knorr, for example in our boullion blocks, is to put in reinforced iron. Many kids in Africa don't get enough nutritional values... These brands are growing. At the same time, we are also trying to bring in variants in these products to cater for consumers that can afford more."

According to Polman, this strategy of bringing a "strong purpose" is "good for all our brands" and can be extended throughout the portfolio. 

Speeding up innovation 

In the challenging conditions of 2016, delivering innovation that meets the requirements of local markets became "more important than ever", CFO Pitkethly suggested. 

"2016 innovations have again been the engine of the growth we have seen, differentiating product benefits, and rolling out those innovations ever faster to ever more markets," he suggested. "We are scaling our innovations much faster. A good example of that is the Hellmann's squeezy packs, which we have now launched in more than 30 countries."

Unilever claims its 'Connected4Growth' initiative has been the agent of change, enabling the company to step up its rate of product development from inception to the shelf. In the UK, for example, the company was able to reduce lead time to just six months for the launch of Hellmann's barbecue sauces. 

Pitkethly said that is being achieved through "building flexibility" into the organisation. He also sought to emphasise the benefit of bringing decision-making closer to local consumers. "Connected4Growth will make us faster, simpler, a more agile business, and it will put more of our resources directly in our markets where it really matters. It will make us more consumer- and customer-centric and, above all, we will be ready in this ever changing world for a more connected world."

Polman noted the initiative should be fully implemented by the beginning of the third quarter this year. 


The move to bring innovation closer to the local markets that Unilever serves is important given the current socio-political environment, management noted.  

Polman suggested the rapid uptake of new technologies is supporting the development of more local, nationalistic attitudes and strengthening local tastes. 

"What you see is adoption of technology, for example, an increasingly fast occurrence. What took us 100 years to get everyone to radio, 50 years to television took ten years to mobile phone and now takes a nano second. This enormous adoption of technology is obviously disrupting a lot of markets. We have seen the world again being much more multi-polar, less globalisation, so local and nationalism and all of it is coming back. Local tastes," he stressed. 

Changes in consumer preferences are also taking place at a more rapid rate, the chief executive suggested. And local competition is "very fast"  in its response to these trends. 

"We want to be sure... that we are taking the right steps to adjust the organisation to be ready for the future," Polman noted. 

Unilever expects 2017 sales to gain steam eventually

Unilever confirmed it anticipates the slowdown it witnessed during the fourth quarter, when underlying sales increased just 2.2%, will continue in the first half of 2017.

The outlook was a central reason for the fall in Unilever's shares today, which closed down 4.55% at 3,196.15p.

"Management already warned about difficult market conditions in October 2016, but it has clearly been harsher than the market thought. Volume growth was negative for the second quarter in a row due to sluggish demand in emerging markets and Europe. In addition, Unilever faced another quarter of deflation in North America," Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Richard Withagen noted. 

Polman did, however, predict that growth will pick up as the year progresses. "There are a few factors that make us feel we will be slower in the first half and better in the second half," he noted. 

The company will be facing stiffer sales comps in the first half and, as it laps these moving into the final six months of 2017, it will be easier to deliver growth. Some of the short-term headwinds – primarily demonetisation in India and recession in Brazil – are also expected to abate, Polman suggested. Additionally, the prospects for global growth are looking brighter in 2017, with the IMF forecasting global growth of 3.4% versus 3.1% in 2016 

"For ourselves, we will have the Connected4Growth programme having a fairly good innovation pace over the second half. So we think that our forecasts for the year to stay within the 3-5% range will be still an objective that we aim for and hope to deliver," 

Personalized nutrition is the next big growth opportunity in the healthier food and beverage industry

When a giant food company invests $32 million in a startup focusing on personalized nutrition – as Campbell’s recently has – then you know that “personalization” has reached its tipping point.

Personalized nutrition is a key growth opportunity for food and beverage companies as consumers increasingly turn to individually-tailored diets.

“Personalisation is about consumers ‘taking back control’,” says Julian Mellentin, director of New Nutrition Business and author of the newly-published report 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2017.“They want to feel more empowered and confident to create their own healthy eating patterns. It goes hand-in-hand with growing awareness that diet is a personal matter – and it’s another stage in the long slow death of “one size fits all” dietary recommendations.”

Many consumers are embracing personalized services such as wearable gadgets providing guidelines based on their weight, height, sleep pattern, heart rate and activity. A smaller but growing number of consumers look for more in-depth services, such as a genetic profile, or metabolism and disease risk via DNA tests.

“The industry can tap into the personalization trend in three ways,” says Mellentin. “First, smart companies will create a portfolio of brands, made to meet the needs of different consumer diets and preferences. Second, they will invest in a multi-platform approach, offering support and tailored dietary advice. This means partnering with entities providing advice on diet planning or with fitness gadgets. Finally, they should invest in e-commerce, as it has proven to be a main route to niche consumers.”

Personalized nutrition services also include tests for biomarkers for chronic inflammation, connecting to another Key Trend for 2017,Inflammation. If you are looking for “the next gluten-free” – the next high-potential long-term growth opportunity – this is it.

“Just like gluten-free back in 2001, many people say inflammation faces several challenges: consumers don’t understand it, it doesn’t have strong scientific support, and you cannot immediately feel the benefit of anti-inflammatory foods. In fact, all of these objections are rapidly being overcome,” says Mellentin.

And like gluten-free before it, one of the most important drivers of growing interest in inflammation is consumer belief. Like gluten-free, inflammation
taps into deeper wells of consumer concern than is immediately apparent. Like gluten-free, it is fuelled by multiple benefit platforms (including the powerful Digestive Wellness trend) and early signs of its potential are connected to the intense growth in consumer interest reflected already in surging sales of supplements
of the “flagship” anti-inflammatory spice, turmeric.

Turmeric is a trend in itself – and also a health halo ingredient that acts as a gateway for consumers to the complex idea of inflammation.Turmeric lattes can be found in cutting-edge city-centre cafes from Australia to Scotland, and a small
but increasing number of adventurous, trend-riding entrepreneurs are starting to use turmeric as a health halo in foods and beverages.

And turmeric’s appeal is not limited
to entrepreneurs. Larabar, a former startup nutrition-bar brand now owned by General Mills, recently introduced
a line of Organic Superfoods bars in three varieties based on “trend-forward” ingredients, two of which include turmeric.

Growth opportunities can also be found in Key Trend 3: Sportification. Regular foods with a health halo are increasingly popular among people who do sport for health reasons – as opposed to elite athletes – and they want a natural product. “Some people have long argued that sports nutrition would go mainstream, and that foods designed for elite athletes would become regular food for everyone,” says Mellentin. “While this is happening to some extent, by far the bigger trend is one which has gone the opposite direction. ‘All natural’ foods are becoming more attractive in sport. Regular food companies, that are not sports-oriented, can drive success if they attach their product to the image of health and sport.”

Digestive Wellnessis a long-established benefit platform now entering a new era thanks to new technologies, new products and new understanding of the broad effects that gut health has on overall health. Key trend 1: Digestive Wellness 2.0 explains that consumers want to ‘feel the benefit’ and they are willing to try a variety of routes to get it. The popularity of products with a free-from benefit, such as gluten-, lactose- and dairy-free, was powered by the perception that avoidance of a specific ingredient would make consumers feel better. Many new types of avoidance are emerging – and new food types, notably fermented foods (like kimchi) and drinks (like kombucha) are taking digestive wellness in exciting new directions.