Posted on Apr 06, 2019, 7 p.m.
According to a new study 65% of consumers are now seeking functional benefits from their food and beverage items; the top 5 ingredients perceived to deliver these kinds of benefits were honey, probiotics, coffee, green tea, and omega-3s.
58% of consumers ranked a balanced diet as a top way to proactively manage health, followed by exercise at 57%, taking vitamins and supplements at 47%, and periodic medical checkups at 46%. Millennials seem to be more proactive with their health at 71% compared to Gen Xers at 66%, and baby boomers at 64% from a generational standpoint, according to a study of 1,001 American consumers published in a white paper from Kerry, an ingredients company.
This white paper also suggests manufacturers add science backed functional ingredients to nonconventional products to help address some of the top health concerns such as digestion, sleep, energy, and stress.
The days of appearance, smell, taste, and texture being the only variables consumers thought about appear to be vanishing at long last. While these are still important consumers now want more out of their food stuffs, manufacturers looking to boost sales/profit should be looking to bring more to the table with their products. Functional claims are no longer a myth or a niche, these science backed items are increasingly being sought after and are becoming a necessity.
Functional food stuffs continue to be an expanding business, according to Zion Market Research the global functioning ingredients market was worth $64.9 million in 2018, and is expected to reach $100 million by 2025. This market is dominated by the USA which is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8% throughout the end of 2021 according to Technavio.
The sudden growth may be inspired by a graying population looking to have more function and health benefits from their food stuffs, or a more health conscious population, or democratization of information. Those who no longer place their unquestioned trust in health recommendations, advertisements, and big corporation’s manipulations can use technology to find resources that show unbiased information about different foods and ingredients. This can be seen through increased searches on superfoods, GMOs, and organics; turmeric/curcumin for example started gaining much interest in 2016 and was called a rising star by Google Trends for online search numbers.
Searches for organics, functional foods, manufacturers, and restaurants are still going strong, and as such there has been response and these incredible ingredients are becoming much more commonplace. As such the retail revenue for products containing turmeric/curcumin, for example, has grown a whopping 179% in only 3 years according to Nielsen statistics cited in the Kerry white paper. Ginger is now on 55% of restaurant menus across the nation according to Datassential Menu trends cited in the white paper, which also says apple cider vinegar has grown by 86%. The white paper also referenced a Mintel report stating 71% more restaurants menus started offering kombucha within the last year as well.
There are still plenty of ways to get involved in the space of functional foods. Bars, shakes, yogurts, and powders appear to be the most common ways consumers obtain benefits from functional foods, but there are unconventional functional products that may be of interest such as coffee which was ranked as a top 5 for being perceived as delivering benefits. Companies such as Starbucks are starting to catch onto functional coffee, this area may jump quickly soon.
Indulgent treats are another place where manufacturers may be able to add function like chocolate. It would be rather disingenuous to try and promote a cookie as being healthy, but better for you ingredients and how they may contribute to overall health could be played upon, such as if you are going to snack why not be more health conscious about it. A few companies have jumped into this market and have launched ice cream, such as Unilever’s protein packed and probiotic Culture Republick ice cream which are now available. Word of advice don’t just add nutrients to things that are unhealthy to change how they are perceived, make a new product and avoid violating the jelly bean rule, make it genuine or chances are it will fail hard.
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