Barbara McCartney is a CPG commercial leader with more than 20 years of experience accelerating food, nutrition, and wellness businesses, from shakes to bars, snacks, and breakfast foods. She’s held executive, marketing, and innovation leadership roles for Nestle, Novartis, Pillsbury, and Unilever. Barbara is currently a growth catalyst for Hyde Park Group Food Innovation, helping companies increase momentum with better H&W foods and beverages.
We interviewed Barbara for her perspective on the next phase of health and nutrition food innovation. Here’s what she had to say.
Q: There has been a surge in health proactivity during the pandemic. What sorts of things are people eating and drinking and do you think it will continue into the future?
The 35% surge in supplement sales over the last two months is most certainly a result of the pandemic. We all have a heightened awareness of our health status and desire to do more to keep ourselves healthy. Maintaining a strong immune system is top of mind for everyone, which is why sales of zinc, elderberry and echinacea have all seen triple digit growth.
When it comes to what we eat and drink, we see an increase in consumer willingness to pay more for high-quality ingredients. Consumers are also seeking foods that maximize nutrition, so functional beverages and clean label foods are showing strong growth since March.
Looking into the future, this heightened health proactivity is much more than a trend. This proactivity is being driven by a fundamental shift in how we view our personal role in managing our health. Going forward, we will factor in the health impact of where we go, how we interact and what we eat and drink. Better tasting functional foods and beverages will be in high demand.
Q: How will everyday foods and beverages play in this market? What are the unmet demand spaces? What will they need to do to succeed?
There is both room and consumer need for everyday foods and beverages that offer added health and wellness benefits. A few opportunity platforms rise to the top for me:
- Functionally Delicious – Today, many options for functional foods and beverages are limited to products that are very niche in sensory experience. For example the sour notes in kombucha are not for everyone. Bang Energy drinks are definitely delivering a home run in this platform – clinically validated functional benefits delivered in sugar-free and fun flavor experiences like Rainbow Unicorn and Star Blast.
- Fortified Favorites – We can get cookies with added protein and cereal with vitamin and minerals but how about other products? Why not enhance the nutritional power of other family favorites? Kodiak Cakes check all the boxes for a fortified option. With 14 grams of protein per serving of Kodiak’s Peanut Butter Power Cakes, you can make every bite count.
- Nutrient Dense – Yes, we can make a nutrition-packed smoothie, but what about savory snacks? Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips are made with cassava flour, avocado oil, and chia seed, making every crispy crunch a smart one.
Q: What recent new products have done a good job crossing the barrier from supplement to food?
I look at Purely Elizabeth as a trend setter in crossing from the supplement aisle to food. Their enhanced granolas contain functional ingredients traditionally available only in supplement form like ashwagandha and MCT oil. And they taste great as well.
Q. How important is taste in this equation? What types of products or categories would benefit from culinary-driven food innovation?
It’s always about taste, and, when it comes to functional foods and beverages, this is a primary challenge. Functional ingredients generally bring strong flavor notes, and masking them is not an easy task. For example, some fermented foods and beverages are an acquired taste and may not be appealing to the mainstream. Any brand considering the addition of functional ingredients should take a culinary approach to product design, so the end result delivers on taste and texture that will take products to the next level.
Q. Why is Hyde Park Group uniquely positioned to solve these challenges?
Hyde Park Group understands that when we eat or drink something, we want the sight, smell, and flavors to be both enjoyable and memorable. Our development team includes top chefs who are masters of blending diverse flavors into delectable dishes. We complement culinary prowess with branding and design expertise – and the result is new foods and beverages that provide a true experience of delight.
If you’re interested in exploring the intersection of culinary excellence with health and nutrition for your next wave of new products, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org