Has Covid focused your mind on nutrition? These companies are here to help

Angus Brown’s natural drink to improve brain function, Ārepa, has seen an increase in sales since Covid-19, as the virus increased people’s attention to their health and well-being, and not it is the only product that benefits.

Repa had a 250% increase in sales the month after the confinement and has continued to grow since then, becoming the best-selling healthy drink in supermarkets.

“We’ve been doubling revenue year after year since Covid started,” says Brown, co-founder and CEO of Ārepa. “Everyone seems to want it more and more now. With the rates of people with cognitive concerns related to Covid-related immunity problems, we’ve got a double benefit.”

Brown’s drink, made from blackcurrants, pine bark extract and L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, is benefiting from a global trend toward natural, comfortable foods with benefits for to health which has been accelerated by Covid.

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Parepa expanded to Australia last year and is receiving inquiries from further afield, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States. It raised $ 2.5 million last year to fund its expansion in Australia and plans to raise more next year to fund a push in the US.

The company has bought some big players to help them, including former Zespri boss Lain Jager, who has become an investor and joined the board, and Allbirds brand guru Simon Endres , which is upgrading the brand for global expansion.

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Other nutrition brands have also seen an increase in sales from Covid.

Nutrient Rescue, which produces fruit and vegetable powder shots, doubled its daily average of new customers in the last quarter of 2021 compared to the equivalent period before Covid in 2019, and growth has continued this year.

CEO Andrew Simcock says the jump in new customers shows the impact of Covid, as the pandemic highlighted the importance of being healthy and having good immunity.

A survey prepared by NZ Trade and Enterprise, Te Taurapa Tūhono, for the company’s expansion in Australia showed that after the outbreak of Covid-19, an additional 8% of Australians planned to prioritize food and healthy drinks in May 2020 compared to the previous month. , and there was also an increase in the number of people who preferred products with immune-boosting properties.

Trends were also seen in other markets, including Singapore, the UK and the US, suggesting a global trend of health-conscious consumers, according to the report.

“People are much more aware of how important their overall health is,” Simcock says. “We are a young company that is in growth mode, but we are certainly seeing a recovery.”

While the company’s products were initially sought after by people with specific health issues, Simcock says demand now comes from mainstream people looking for better nutrition with natural products and moving away from supplements and energy drinks. .

He says it can be difficult to eat properly with enough diversity in your diet for good nutrition, and Nutrient Rescue makes it easier by providing a daily dose of eight types of fruits and vegetables.

“We have a number of these wonderful, nutrient-dense super foods that we can produce and take overseas, in addition to feeding our own requirements,” says Simcock.

Lincoln University’s director of food and agribusiness marketing, Dr. Nic Lees, says companies are responding to consumers’ desire for healthier products, a trend that has accelerated since Covid.

“In today’s environment, things are changing very fast,” he says. “These things have been on fire, but suddenly there’s a real focus on food that offers health benefits.”

Still, Lees says that even though people want their food to be healthy, they don’t want to make a big effort. And they are increasingly aware that taking capsule-shaped supplements does not necessarily provide the same benefits as the nutrients in food.

Consumers are increasingly focusing on foods that can provide health benefits, says Dr. Nic Lees of Lincoln University.

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Consumers are increasingly focusing on foods that can provide health benefits, says Dr. Nic Lees of Lincoln University.

Lees follows the trend of her own life, bringing a box of vegetable snacks to work every day to make sure her daily dose of fruits and vegetables is healthy.

He points out that Asian cultures are more in tune with the impact of food on health, but says it is an upward trend among European New Zealanders, given Covid’s additional boost.

Leading companies are also jumping on the trend, with the Nut Brothers peanut butter niche brand recently adding a new range of probiotics and blueberries.

“You always have to be innovative and move forward with new things,” says co-founder Jono Wood. “If you look at what’s happening around the world, you see that American companies have done it, and we thought it was smart. We’ll try.”

He says it’s a great way for families to add healthy foods to their children’s diets.

Nut Brothers has added probiotics to its peanut butter range as a healthy option for families.

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Nut Brothers has added probiotics to its peanut butter range as a healthy option for families.

“Probiotics are a good thing and it’s an easy way to introduce them to your family,” he says. “You’re what you eat, so everyone has to supplement all the good stuff in some way.”

Lincoln University Lees says people increasingly want their food to be healthy and to feel beneficial.

“What’s always pretty interesting is which part is a real benefit versus a perceived benefit,” he says.

While there is good evidence of the use of manuca honey for wound healing, there is no evidence that consuming manuca honey has any health benefits, he says.

Dr. Nic Lees of Lincoln University says people will buy products that they believe have some health benefits.

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Dr. Nic Lees of Lincoln University says people will buy products that they believe have some health benefits.

In fact, very few consumers will look at evidence of a product and not always behave rationally, he says.

Most products have some scientific support that relates it to health benefits, and that’s enough for most consumers, he says.

“As long as you have enough evidence that this is the case, people perceive it as healthier and better for you and a lot of things that there is probably not much evidence of whether or not it is,” he says.

However, some companies are spending a lot of money on science to support their nutrition claims.

Dr. Robert Langer of VitaKey says people may not realize that many nutrients are destroyed before they are eaten.

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Dr. Robert Langer of VitaKey says people may not realize that many nutrients are destroyed before they are eaten.

New Zealand’s largest food company, dairy giant Fonterra, is increasing its innovation spending by 50% to about $ 160 million a year by 2030 as it delves into the properties of milk, so that it can produce high value nutritional products.

Fonterra discovered and marketed two of the world’s leading probiotic strains, which treat digestive problems and immunity, and has more than 40,000 dairy strains at its Palmerston North Research and Development Center, one of the dairy libraries. largest in the world. Most are yet to be tested for their potential as probiotics and may have health benefits never seen before.

In December last year, Fonterra partnered with world-renowned scientist Dr. Robert Langer, co-founder of the vaccine maker Moderna, and its U.S. biotechnology company VitaKey, which specializes in delivering precision nutrition.

Langer says people may not realize that many nutrients are destroyed before they are eaten, and his company has developed technology to stabilize nutrients and ensure that they survive and are bioavailable to the consumer.

The first stage of the collaboration focused on stabilizing the two Fonterra probiotics for digestive and immune problems to allow them to reach the parts of the body where they are most needed for optimal nutrition. Since then, the company has expanded to include other micronutrients such as vitamin D.

Langer expects VitaKey to be groundbreaking for the $ 8 trillion (12 trillion New Zealand) global food industry a year.

“Nutrition is very important,” he says. “I’m just trying to do what I can with science to make the world a happier and healthier place. Our goal is to see as many people as possible around the world.”

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