Functional foods continue to find support

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 18th May 2009

Grocery stores have become hunting grounds for healthful, functional foods and beverages that offer distinct wellness advantages beyond basic nutrition, according to a new American report* from Packaged Facts. Consumers are more proactive about their health, spurring 6% growth in the US retail market for functional foods and beverages.

“Consumers are reevaluating their health, nutrition, and lifestyle choices adopted years ago. This reevaluation includes considering the role functional foods and beverages could or should play in diets in order to avoid or help treat all kinds of health conditions,” Tatjana Meerman, publisher of Packaged Facts, advised. “This new, proactive approach is fundamentally different from the reactive tendencies of consumers in the past who only treated health problems after they arose.”

During the five-year period from 2003 to 2008, several functionally oriented food and beverage categories performed well, including yoghurt, energy drinks, nutritional snacks and trail mixes, milk substitutes and soymilk, and refrigerated blended fruit drinks, among others. Packaged Facts projects that retail sales of functional foods and beverages will continue to grow at a steady pace through 2013, increasing by almost 40 per cent in the next five years.

Though the market has not proven to be recession proof, it has advantages that could prevent it from being as vulnerable as most other markets. Namely, in the short term functional products may save consumers money since these foods and beverages carry nutrients that shoppers would otherwise seek in expensive nutritional supplements. While, in the long run, functional products might offer consumers savings in medical bills by providing essential nutrients that can help prevent illness.

*Functional Foods and Beverages in the U.S., 4th Edition.