Millennials, ever interested in where and how their food is produced, want their protein to be raised with the same natural health supplements they would use themselves — and they are driving this trend among the general U.S. consumer base, according to Cargill's latest "Feed4Thought" survey.
The survey, which polled more than 1,000 people in the U.S. in December 2017, found that 62% of Millennials want the protein they eat to come from animals raised with the same health supplements popular for people, such as probiotics, plant extracts and essential oils. Consumers, in general, reported that they are three times more likely to prefer protein from animals that were fed those natural feed additives to improve the animal's digestive health and overall well-being.
"We've seen a rise in the popularity of digestive health supplements for humans, which is echoed in the demand for protein raised with natural supplements," said Chuck Warta, president of Cargill premix and nutrition. "People want natural, wholesome and sustainable ingredients. In turn, they are increasingly seeking out protein options in line with their values and personal natural health routines."
Additional results from the Feed4Thought survey included:
- Probiotics were the most well-recognized natural supplement for animals (43%).
- Almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents said they are aware of the availability of natural health products to feed animals.
- More than 80% of respondents reported adjusting or supplementing their diet to achieve better gut health.
Investing in natural feed additives
Other consumer research confirms this trend, which is driven by rapidly increasing demand for quality animal products. A recent MarketsandMarket study projected that the total market for animal feed probiotics will reach about $5.07 billion by 2022, growing at a rate of nearly 8% per year. Meanwhile, a senior industry analyst from Nutrition Business Journal said global supplement sales for humans will also grow steadily through 2020.
"It's important for the animal agriculture community to remain in touch with food trends so that we can continue to provide the choices consumers demand," said Hannah Thompson-Weeman, vice president of communications at the Animal Agriculture Alliance. "Just as human health supplement offerings expand and improve, so do the options to raise animals with natural supplements. Consumers can now find the meat, milk and eggs raised with the same natural health supplements they personally use."
Warta said Cargill is expanding its efforts in healthy, naturally supplemented protein, mainly through its acquisition of Diamond V and equity investment in Delacon. “These two global businesses are leading the way in the production of sustainable and wholesome food that consumers want," he added.
Iowa-based Diamond V produces natural immune support products for animal feed, and Austria-based Delacon makes phytogenic feed additives, which use ingredients like herbs, spices and other plants to improve animal performance.
"Our mission is to develop products that are natural, research-proven solutions that help optimize animal health and productivity," Diamond V president Jeff Cannon said. "Our technology works naturally with the biology of the animal to strengthen the immune system, which supports benefits beyond health and performance."