Immunity in a time of need

Read about ways to maintain a healthy immune system and how wellness-seeking customers in a post COVID-19 world will be looking for enjoyable ways to support function.

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Supporting immunity and your healthfulness in a time of a pandemic only seems logical. COVID-19 has reinforced to all of us that it isn’t just the aged or ailing who need to maintain a healthy immune system

Consumer lifestyles have changed and the unknown certainty of the situation is still looming over the US and affecting everyone’s day-to-day life. Returning to “normal life” feels tentative and vague at the moment, and consumer mentality during the pandemic has shifted spending trends toward well-being and strengthened immunity. 

In March 2020, the average US supplement user had increased their supplement intake by 50% and Immune Health Herbal Formula sales had nearly doubled from the 1st week in March to the last week in March. (Source: Nutrition Business Journal; SPINS Natural Enhanced)

It is important to ask,  how will we be able to continue to support our consumer’s defenses now and after COVID?

Leveraging well-known nutrients and phytoactives
The most in-demand products have been micronutrients, dominated by vitamins C, D, A, zinc, and selenium. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, are well-known foods containing Vitamin C. I can’t tell you how many times when feeling under the weather growing up, my parents told me to drink some orange juice to get some additional vitamin C. However, there are even richer sources of naturally occurring vitamin C growing in acceptance, in particular acerola cherries. Acerola cherries (also known as Barbados cherries) are known as one of nature’s richest sources of vitamin C.

Echinacea, turmeric, ginger, and ginseng are also meaningful botanicals and herbs associated with health benefits and may even be backed by science/ evidence-based research. These botanicals are generally recognized by consumers for their anti-inflammatory properties and vitalizing properties.

Finally, we can’t forget to talk about two ever-popular “superfruits” well-known for immune support - elderberry and açaí berries. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has a strong history in traditional use and within the last few years has exploded in the market and into everyone’s thoughts when looking for natural remedies. Açaí berries had made it onto my radar in the form of a tasty Açaí bowl, but I soon learned that açaí berries, rich in polyphenols, have been heralded for centuries as a healing, immune-stimulating, energy-boosting fruit.

Food as medicine
Wellness-seeking consumers in a post-COVID world will be looking for enjoyable ways to support function. With today’s always-need-to-know consumer, we can expect shoppers to read labels and continue more than ever to look for products that lead to benefits they’re looking for.

As the body’s immune system is a whole host defense network of cells working together, protecting the body from possible harmful substances, it will be particularly important to address and possibly pair in other benefits such as stress reduction or supporting gut health. Both of these conditions will continue to affect the body’s immune response and could prove as an opportunity to support the additional needs of consumers.

While there is no magic solution to ensure one has healthy immunity, there are many ways to support your customer’s diet and maintain a healthy proactive lifestyle. With the increase in consumers adopting and making healthful choices, there may even be an opportunity to reach new audiences and make headway in the market.

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Stephen Collins

Head of Communications, NOAM Flavors, Givaudan

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