The ingredients industry adapts to rapidly evolving consumer preferences. Technological advances are helping businesses keep up with the changing landscape and meet emerging market preferences. Through new emulsion technologies, the extraction of bioactive compounds, the production of advanced ingredients, and the development of non-dairy substitutes, the industry strives to deliver products of high quality. They also incorporate advanced properties, promote sustainability, and enable personalization.


Here are the most influential ingredient trends of 2024 and how they advance manufacturing industries.

*Data taken from StartUs Insights (7/2023) analyzed 1567 startups and emerging companies.

Top 10 Ingredient Industry TrendsImpact of Top 10 Ingredient Trends
Plant-based proteins18%
Active Ingredients15%
Sugar Alternatives12%
Ingredient Informatics11%
Components Transparency10%
Novel Emulsion Technology9%
Bioactive Compound Extraction6%
Advanced Ingredients Production4%
Non-Dairy Substitutes3%
1. Plant-Based Proteins

Plant-based proteins are popular due to increasing environmental, health and ethical concerns related to animal-based proteins. Unconventional sources like quinoa, hemp, algae, lentils, chickpeas, and fungi offer rich protein content and additional nutritional benefits. Innovations in precision fermentation allow to produce proteins identical to those in animal products.


2. Active ingredients

Active ingredients are trending in skincare, personal care, and pharmaceuticals sectors due to consumer demand for effective, targeted solutions. Ingredients are engineered to provide specific physiological or therapeutic effects to address a variety of skin concerns from dehydration, anti-aging, and more.

In pharmaceuticals, active ingredients are targeted to helping patients manage symptoms, treat conditions, and boost overall health. And technologies like high-throughput screening (HTS) are accelerating this trend, thus allowing the rapid testing of multiple compounds against biological pathways which is driving the development of new, potent active ingredients. Nanotechnology plays a vital role in this space.


3. Microalgae

Microalgae is an emerging trend in the ingredients industry – recognized for its sustainability and high nutrient content. Microalgae’s bioactive compounds, proteins and lipids make it a critical ingredient in health and wellness products.

Innovative companies are improving microalgae’s bioavailability and sensory properties in product formulations – which expands its use across industries from food and beverages to supplements and skincare. Technological advances are enhancing microalgae’s potential, using complex techniques in strain selection and genetic engineering, scientists are developing high-yield microalgae strains. This optimizes specific traits like lipid content, protein quality or bioactive compound production tailoring to specific ingredient applications.


4. Sugar Alternatives

Sugar alternatives are seeing mainstream popularity as health-conscious consumers seek to reduce sugar intake. Companies are innovating to meet the demand – from low-calorie sweeteners to high-intensity artificial sweeteners. Emerging technologies allow for the extraction and purification more efficiently for stevia.

In addition, for low or zero calorie options, prebiotic fiber-based sweeteners such as inulin, oligofructose, and chicory root fiber are also gaining traction. These ingredients add sweetness and offer health benefits – beneficial gut bacteria.


5. Ingredient Informatics

Ingredient informatics big data and AI enable companies manufacturing ingredients to collect and analyze diverse data types like genomic data, chemical databases, sensory evaluations, and consumer preferences. This assimilation allows for a nuance understanding of ingredients properties and their impact on product quality, taste, and nutritional content. AI aids in precise ingredient formulation, effective allergen management, comprehensive nutritional analytics, and regulatory compliance. This promotes safety, efficiency, and innovation in product development.

Using the Internet of Things (IOT), business ensures real-time data collection and analysis, enabling dynamic decision-making and constant monitoring of ingredient safety and quality of production. Lastly, blockchain ensures secure, transparent, and decentralized data management. It improves traceability, trust and transparency in ingredient sourcing and production.


6. Components Transparency

Components transparency is a growing trend in the ingredient industry due to consumer awareness and desire for trustworthy products. Businesses across all sectors adopt clean labels to provide detailed ingredient information, including sourcing details and potential health or environmental impacts.

Blockchain enhances transparency – it provides traceability from farm to table and combats the risk of counterfeit products, increasing consumer confidence. Manufacturers utilize augmented reality (AR) to deliver ingredient information in interactive ways. Consumers then visualize a more immersive and informative shopping experience.


7. Novel Emulsion Technology

Novel emulsion technology is driven by advances in encapsulation and stabilization methods, emulsion technologies blend and stabilize immiscible components. Crucial in creating products with improved stability, functionality, and performance. These innovations facilitate the encapsulation of both hydrophobic and hydrophilic ingredients, including vitamins, flavors, antioxidants, and bioactive compounds. Encapsulation protects the component (active ingredient) and allows for their controlled release, improving efficacy in the final product. Ingredient manufacturers and suppliers are exploring nanoemulsions, which feature smaller droplet sizes and larger interfacial surfaces. These properties increase solubility of hydrophobic ingredients in aqueous systems – enhancing the delivery and bioavailability. And there is a growing interest in Pickering emulsions that use particles to stabilize ingredients at the oil-water interface.


8. Bioactive Compound Extraction

Bioactive Compound Extraction due to the potential health benefits and functional properties of bioactive compounds, natural sources such as plants, marine organisms and microorganisms offer a range of applications in food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, and cosmetics. Startups and scaleups are focusing on obtaining bioactive compounds from their natural sources through novel extraction processes.

Supercritical fluid extraction (SPFE) allows for the extraction of heat-sensitive bioactive compounds without compromising their integrity. Ultrasound-assisted extraction (UAE) improves extraction efficiency, reduces extraction time, and minimizes the need for high temperatures and large amounts of solvents. And sustainable and eco-friendly practices eliminate the need for organic solvents, making ingredients greener. For instance, subcritical water extraction (SWE) extracts bioactive compounds, including polyphenols, alkaloids, and essential oils.


9. Advanced Ingredients Production

Startups and scaleups are developing advanced technologies to improve production processes. This enables the production of novel and high-quality ingredients sustainably while increasing ingredient performance. Utilizing cell culture technology, businesses produce complex ingredients that are challenging to obtain through traditional methods. Like AI-based systems optimize ingredient formulations, process parameters, and quality control, leading to consistent and high-quality ingredient production.


10. Non-Dairy Substitutes

Non-dairy substitutes with increasing lactose intolerance, dietary restrictions, and animal welfare concerns means the demand for nondairy substitutes is growing. In response to the shifting landscape, the ingredients industry leverages emerging technologies to create a diverse range of dairy alternatives. These technologies innovations offer both nutritional value and taste satisfaction while being sustainable.

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