Food for thought: 5 steps to immunity innovation in the food and beverage market

By:  Talking Nutrition Editors

  • Consumers worldwide have defined their immunity as a major health concern, and a rising number of scientific studies show that nutrition has an important role in supporting immune function. However, many people are not consuming high enough levels of immunity-supporting nutrients through diet alone.
  • In our latest webinar, a panel of DSM experts – Rona Weekes, Eric Slabaugh and Camilo Aguilar – explained how nutrition impacts immune health, as well as exploring the latest consumer insights and innovative new concepts to support the development of purpose-led fortified products.
  • In this blog, we share a roundup of the webinar’s top five takeaways for manufacturers and brand owners looking to develop science-backed fortified food and beverage products that tap into consumer demand for immune health support.

Watch the on-demand webinar to discover the potential of immune support in food and beverage.

The latest consumer insights have shown that immunity is now a major health concern on a global scale,1 and many people are looking for proven immune health support solutions that don’t interfere with their daily routine. Enter: fortified food and beverage solutions.

The food and beverage industry has a unique positioning in that its products are already typically part of consumers’ daily lives. From breakfast cereals to on-the-go snacks and drinks, fortifying food and beverages with added nutrients allows consumers to conveniently increase their nutritional intake without actively adding another step to their routines. Read on to uncover our five top tips on how manufacturers and brand owners can optimize their food and beverage portfolios to meet demand for immune health products.

Step 1: Understanding your target market across life stages and lifestyles

Brand owners must consider two questions when thinking about developing new products. Firstly, is this product something that consumers really want? In our webinar, Eric Slabaugh explained how demand for vitamins C and D, known for their immune-supporting properties, has grown by 24% and 35% year-over-year respectively.2 Furthermore, due to growing awareness around immune health as a result of the global health crisis, immunity is likely to remain a hot topic for years to come, meaning that there will be an ongoing opportunity for manufacturers to appeal to consumers across different life stages and lifestyles.

Once the demand has been identified, the second question that brand owners face is whether their product will stand out to consumers on shelves, especially in a saturated market. Often, people will prefer a solution that easily fits into their everyday lives across life stages, and fortified food and beverages are well aligned to this need.

Step 2: Addressing inadequate nutrient intake

In an ideal world, consumers would receive the nutrients required to support immunity through a healthy diet. However, nutrient gaps worldwide indicate that diet is often not enough. As Camilo Aguilar explains in the webinar, nutrients such as vitamins A, C, D, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids all play important roles in maintaining a healthy immune system. However, many people worldwide are not obtaining sufficient levels of these nutrients; in fact, people globally are not meeting their daily adequate vitamin D intake and 88% of them have insufficient/inadequate vitamin D blood levels/status.3 As vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections, a particularly important quality in the context of COVID-19, this global challenge is more important than ever.4

Step 3: Fortifying food and beverages for immunity

Fortifying food and beverage products with these immune-supporting nutrients is a great way to tackle these nutrient gaps in a convenient format. Adding vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to everyday items such as cereal, dairy, juices, sports drinks and baked goods is a simple and increasingly popular way for consumers to increase their nutrient intake, without changing their routine. In fact, as Eric explains, 40% of people currently consume cereals with added nutrients and 34% buy fortified beverages, up from 27% and 21% respectively in 2018.5 This has also led to the growth of the fortified products market, with sales of eight of the leading premium value-added juice brands in the US up between 8.5% and 28.4% YOY.6

Step 4: Sparking inspiration with innovative immunity concepts

To shape the future development of new food and beverages in the immunity space, Rona Weekes showcased seven concepts designed by DSM. From drinks to baked goods, these prototypes demonstrate how appealing products can help consumers increase their nutritional intake and support immune health. For example, DSM’s Resilience Juice Smoothie concept offers enhanced immune health nutrition in a consumer-friendly way by using easily understandable ingredient labeling.

As an end-to-end partner, DSM creates bespoke food and beverage concepts based on specific health benefits and objectives – enabling brand owners to develop products that deliver on consumer needs, wants and preferences. Watch the webinar here to learn more about the transforming consumer needs and to discover how DSM can bring your next food and beverage idea from concept to consumer.

Step 5: Looking to the future - what’s next for immunity fortification?

Creating long-term solutions for supporting immune health requires brand owners to remain at the forefront of new science. In the webinar, Camilo Aguilar explored the future of immunity fortification, highlighting the important role that research into human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) and omega-3 fatty acids – especially EPA and DHA – may play in future innovation within the field of immunity.

Understanding the industry landscape, as well as the latest science and consumer preferences, is crucial for creating research-backed immune support food and beverage products that consumers will love. As your end-to-end partner, DSM provides science-backed products, customized solutions and expert services to help food and beverage manufacturers take their next immunity solution from concept to consumer.

Watch the on-demand webinar to discover the potential of immune support in food and beverage.

Published on

02 August 2021


  • Optimize your immunity
  • Vitamins
  • Food and Beverage
  • Health & Nutrition
  • Article
  • R&D


4 min read

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  1. DSM Global Consumer Health Concerns Survey, 2021.
  2. Nielsen.
  3. Hilger et al., ‘A systematic review of vitamin D status in populations worldwide’, British Journal of Nutrition, 2014.
  4. Adrian Martineau, ‘Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory infections: Individual participant data meta-analysis’, Healthy Technology Assessment, 2019.
  5. DSM, Global Consumer Immunity Panel, 2020.

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