Expertise & research centre in Food & Health

Health innovation

Health innovation in the food sector is at the heart of the ERC in Food & Health. It represents a fascinating challenge in our society, where the increase in the number of people overweight and obese, and the associated chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer are the result of little exercise and overeating.

Moreover, our food contains too much salt, saturated fat, added sugar and energy; and we do not eat enough fruit and vegetables. There is also a growing group of elderly consumers for whom undernourishment poses a serious threat.

The health-conscious consumer is inspired by organic and super foods, and is sometimes concerned about E-numbers. There is also a large group of consumers who struggle to lead a healthy lifestyle, make fewer conscious decisions and would therefore benefit from a healthier selection on supermarket shelves. The healthy choice should be the easy choice. This is the task of food companies.

4 Themes 

Food & Health is almost entirely about 2 issues: 1. the composition of the product and 2. what can you say about it in your communication & marketing. These form the basis for the 4 focus themes of the Food & Health ERC:

1. Healthy product composition

Reformulating food and drink products has been on the Dutch government’s agenda for a long time. The focus has been mainly on reducing levels of salt, saturated fats, sugar and energy. Product composition is also important when developing new products. Many companies are now preoccupied with the question: ‘When is food healthy?’ And there are already multiple answers.

2. Food for target groups, new concepts

Each target group, for example children and the elderly, has specific nutritional requirements.  In addition to the products composition, the experience is also important. When developing product concepts for specific sales channels such as in the healthcare sector, schools or supermarkets, product composition and health messaging come together.

3. Health-oriented information

A lot is said and written about food & health. Much of what you are allowed to say is defined by law: labelling, nutritional value, health claims. It is also possible to use logos or daily nutritional guidelines. These developments to increase transparency for the consumer not only make it possible to collect and monitor such information, we can also follow the effect it has on consumers and producers.

4. The food industry and health

The food industry determines the range of food on offer and thus how easy it is for the consumer to make a healthy choice. In 2014, the Food Trendpanel was initiated. The companies involved complete an annual questionnaire.