Consumer interest in the relationship between diet and health has increased as consumers become more informed about how to get the most out of their daily food intake. At the same time, the information age has ushered in immediate accessibility of everything from news and shopping to booking holidays and keeping in touch with friends and family, and instant gratification is now the new normal. People want this in other spheres in their lives too, so it comes as no surprise that snacks made from natural ingredients, with added vitamins but no added sugars or preservatives, are becoming increasingly popular.
Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine, said, ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,’ and this philosophy has once again become important in our path to a healthier life. ‘We’re seeing more and more how consumers are leaning on their diets, and not on pharmaceuticals, to prevent disease and optimise their health,’ says Bruce Dennison, president of the Health Products Association of South Africa (HPASA).
Along with this increasing reliance of health products comes a greater thirst for knowledge about them, and that’s where the HPASA plays a crucial role. Launched in 1976, the HPASA has long been at the forefront of championing quality standards in the natural health products, nutritional dietary supplements and complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) industries. The industry body represents a broad spectrum of stakeholders including manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, practitioners and more.
So-called “hyper-functional” foods, which combine health-giving natural ingredients with added vitamins and proteins – think smoothies or fruit-and-nut bars – are gaining in popularity, as are natural and herbal tonics based on tried-and-trusted recipes. ‘Nutritious snack foods are playing an increasingly crucial role in our daily lives, as we no longer have the time to have three balanced meals a day, and rely on snacking for much of our nutritional intake,’ explains Andrea du Plessis, nutritional expert at Vital Health Foods.
Many retailers are seeing the shift in how consumers are relying on snacking even more and are creating hyper-functional foods in the form of health bars, raw food bars and energy bars, to meet the demand. ‘Vital recognised how the consumers were relying more on snacks as their meals, so we have developed some fantastic on-the-go snacks to fill this ever-growing market,’ explains Du Plessis.
Wayne Robinson, HPASA director of scientific and technical affairs, says, ‘We’re always working closely with our members to give them all the information they need to adhere to the strict regulations set out for the manufacturing of CAMS and health products.’
Robinson, who’s the voice of the industry when it comes to legislative matters, adds, ‘Within the CAMS industry, it’s vital that we create this value, since without it, the products won’t benefit the consumer.’