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Growing consumer need for well-being challenges the nutrition industry to expand to new sectors


The VTT and the University of Kuopio draw up a roadmap for food and nutrition solutions

NUTRITECH, a joint research programme between VTT and the University of Kuopio, has produced a roadmap for new food and nutrition solutions and evaluated the effects of change needs on product concepts and business opportunities.

The results of the roadmap will challenge the players in the food and nutrition industry to collaborate with new industries and technology sectors.

In the coming years, the choices that consumers make about nutrition will be increasingly based on values and communality. At the same time, products will also be expected to be easy to use and conveniently available. According to information gathered in the NUTRITECH programme, the importance of the physiological effects of nutrition are better known than before. However, converting that knowledge into added value in the consumer's everyday life and values is challenging. Products and services meeting the consumers' individual needs are on the horizon. The importance of consumer information will increase. 

"The results of the roadmap will challenge the players in the food and nutrition industry to seek collaboration with new fields,” explains Kaisa Poutanen, a joint research professor of VTT and the University of Kuopio and director of the NUTRITECH programme. ”Interdisciplinary collaboration is needed since new products and services require an integration of, for example, biotechnology, information technology, intelligent packaging technology and social media with the traditional production and distribution of and information provided on foodstuffs. Finland is a model country in high technology and healthy nutrition and has thus a strong foundation for being a pioneer in the development of new business."

Healthfulness is not the only value that consumers consider when choosing food. Promoting sustainable development, preventing climate change and supporting ethical production methods also factor in consumer choices. As eating habits and services become more varied, a meal will continue to be a significant part of social life in the future. Consumers will want more information on the quality, origin and production methods of food. As the volume of information increases, the value of certified information and need for targeted communication solutions will increase. Planning aids for selecting foodstuffs and methods for measuring consumption or effect will assist consumers in planning their shopping and meals and in assessing one's own nutrition. 

The information was gathered based on three workshops in which experts and company representatives from different fields, interested in food and nutrition solutions, discussed future needs as well as the products and concepts that could address these needs. Reference materials included national and international industry strategy documents, market surveys and roadmaps relating to the development of other industries.

Good nutrition can reduce the risk of many illnesses and improve one's overall well-being. From the standpoint of society, disease prevention provides opportunities to impact health care expenses.

Nutrition will present a number of great challenges in the future. These include providing balanced nutrition for the aging, teaching the young to adopt healthier eating habits and helping people leading busy lives gain easier access to healthful options that promote well-being. Weight control, including a balance between nutrition and exercise, will be another significant challenge.