Speaking to a range experts at HiE in Amsterdam, we asked what the future holds for the functional foods industry - with many agreeing that the single most important trend will be a shift from functionally fortified products to naturally healthy foods.
Functional foods accounted for 5% of the overall food market in 2013 and continued to grow throughout 2014, according to data from Euromonitor. However, growth in fortified functional foods will be matched by a new trend for foods that are more naturally functional.
In fact, Ewa Hudson, global head of health and wellness research at Euromonitor International expects ‘naturally healthy’ products to catch up in sales values with ‘functionally fortified’ range by 2019 - with products such as probiotic yoghurts, nuts, green tea, mineral water as well as organic products expected to do particularly well in the future.
Meanwhile, other categories such as weight management products, energy drinks and beauty-from-within products should continue to grow, she said.
Leslie Lannebere, Business Manager at Naturex believes functional beverages have a larger growing potential than functional foods: “If we look at the market we can see that it’s growing by about 10-20% each year.”
She added that beverages become more popular as there are a convenient and tasty lifestyle choice.
However, Hudson added that market and category growth will continue to vary between countries - with some countries still needing basic fortified food such as fortified milk, flour or bread that can help minimalise nutritional deficiencies.
“In advanced markets it’s all about functional ingredients with additional health benefits giving concrete satisfaction or potential prevention of diseases," she added.
Food for thought
Julian Mellentin, director of New Nutrition Business predicts in the future companies will have to appeal to consumers’ desires to be successful.
“You cannot take a technology and force it down people’s throats; you cannot educate the consumer about your ingredient, because they are being bombarded with information all the time, so you just have to find what they believe in and how they connect to it,” he said.