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Italy’s evolving immune health landscape

Italy was the first country in Europe to document a large number of cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and the impact has been devastating. While the country begins to open up, and reported cases are on the decline(1), one thing that can be said is that attitudes to immune health will continue to grow.

Even before the pandemic, immunity was a major concern for consumers. In 2019, Kerry, the makers of Wellmune®, conducted consumer research that showed demand for immune health products was high across Europe, but particularly so in Italy. For example, 68% of Italian respondents said immune support is the most important reason for purchasing healthy lifestyle products, and 72% said they had used/considered using an immune health product in the previous six months(2).

Naturally, people are interested in doing as much as they can to protect themselves through the products they consume. Mintel research shows 28% of Italians are now more interested in food and 19% in drinks that can support the immune system than they were before the outbreak(3). Further, product formats are important in the types of immunity products consumers want to buy. Consumer research found that Italian consumers are most interested in purchasing yoghurts and yoghurt drinks, juices, bars, and dietary supplements that contain immune health benefits(4).

But beyond formats, unsurprisingly, efficacy scores highly, and will continue to grow in interest as consumers focus on their health and wellness. For example, the Kerry research reveals the importance of science-backed efficacy. Globally, 39% of the consumers we surveyed said seeing claims based on research or scientific data would make them more likely to buy a healthy lifestyle product, with this figure at 41% in Italy. Transparency was also a key factor: 35% of consumers in Italy said they wanted to see the benefits of a healthy lifestyle product explained on its packaging(5).

One of the leading science-backed immune health ingredients is our own product, Wellmune. It’s a natural food, beverage and supplement ingredient, and the only yeast beta glucan supported by over a dozen published, peer-reviewed clinical studies. Wellmune has regulatory approval in major markets.  Although there is no specific research demonstrating its effectiveness against illnesses like Coronavirus, the spike in interest in immune health means we’re currently seeing very high levels of demand. The devastation caused by Coronavirus indicates interest in immune health will remain high for generations to come. It’s also more important than ever that companies like ours act responsibly and demonstrate a commitment to safety, efficacy and scientific research.

For more global and regional consumer insights, download the white paper: Consumer Research Supports Global Demand for Immunity Products

2 Kerry, Global Consumer Survey – Digestive & Immune Health, 2019
3 Mintel, Impact of Covid-19 on Food & Drink - Europe – 2020
4 Kerry, Global Consumer Survey – Digestive & Immune Health, 2019
5 Kerry, Global Consumer Survey – Digestive & Immune Health, 2019

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