Numerous Benefits of Functional Foods Shines Spotlight on Global Market
Functional foods are supplements and other foodstuffs that include biologically active components that enhance health. These rich in nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and fibre food products are developed to help consumers reduce the prevalence of nutritional deficiencies. Functional foods are also rich in antioxidants that eliminate free radicals, preventing chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease when consumed over a prolonged period. An increasing recognition of link between health and diet by modern-day consumers has fuelled growth of the global functional foods market over the last decade.
Probiotics for Improved Gut Function and Immunity Gives Functional Foods Market a Boost
Medline Plus states that lactose intolerance is a major health concern amongst children and adults. This has brought attention to pre and probiotics, which aid lactose digestion by slowing orocecal transit and mitigating discomfort. Probiotics raise the IgA antibody levels in infants and ingesting yoghurt stimulates the production of cytokines in cells. Products enriched with probiotics include yoghurt, cheese, cultured buttermilk, and kefir.
Modern consumers are extremely health-conscious, which has encouraged companies to offer functional beverages enriched with probiotics. Along with conventional milk, alternative milks such as protein and almond milk have demonstrated the maximum sales potential and are sweeping the functional foods market as they provide lactose intolerant people with the perfect mix of nutrition and taste.
Lack of Dietary Fibre Consumption Makes Consumers Gravitate Towards Functional Foods
Dietary fibre aids in the management of diabetes, heart disease, and weight by lowering cholesterol, maintaining blood sugar levels, and ensuring healthy bowel movement. The Harvard School of Public Health states that adults need 30g of dietary fibre daily but most Americans do not consume the recommended amount. As there is a significant shortfall between recommended intake and actual consumption, companies can justifiably add dietary fibres to their functional foods.
Dietary fibre supplementation via functional foods such as crackers, cookies, beverages, imitation cheeses, spices, and cereal-based products is expected to spike as consumers realise its immediate need. Fibres are used as binders, volume enhancers, fat reducers, and rheological modifiers in baked goods, fried foods, and sauces respectively. Companies are heavily marketing digestive benefits with ‘added fibre’ claims and this should spike demand in the functional foods market.
Functional Foods for Cardiovascular Health to Climb Up as Consumers Focus on Healthy Living
The cardiovascular health segment represents a quarter of the global functional foods market and is anticipated to grow at a robust pace as individuals aim to improve lifestyles for a better quality of life. The WHO states that cardiovascular disease causes 17.9 million deaths annually with a third being premature and occurring in those below 70. Several functional foods such as flaxseed, psyllium, stanol-ester margarine, and oats improve cardiovascular health by reducing blood lipid levels, minimizing platelet aggression, and decreasing plaque formation. Consumers have realized that reducing red meat consumption and shifting to a plant-based diet with low saturated fat is the best way of preventing heart disease. People are seeking cardioprotective diets to live longer, healthier lives and incorporating functional foods into one’s diet is an ideal way to do so.
Broadening Demographic of Sports Nutrition Increases Demand for Functional Foods
Once the exclusive domain of male athletes below 35, sports nutrition is now vital to baby boomers, casual gymgoers, and female athletes. There has been an emphasis on personal fitness and weight management through the right blend of exercise and diet, opening up limitless opportunities for companies in the sports nutrition segment. In a survey by Glanbia Nutritionals, nearly half of ageing consumers listed maintaining muscle health as a priority concern. Products rich in leucine, omega-3, and protein can sufficiently address this but are underrepresented in the functional foods market. Companies are striving to overcome this by releasing high protein performance beverages, nutrient-rich plant waters such as watermelon or coconut water, and functional and protein enhanced bars. While the core demographic remains male bodybuilders, companies foresee greater growth potential in casual fitness enthusiasts and individuals looking to manage weight in this segment of the functional foods market.
Asian Customers Seek Functional Foods with Traditional Chinese Herbs and Indian Spices
Asia Pacific region accounts for the largest share of the functional foods market with China continuing to grow at an exponential rate. The functional food market in China has four subdivisions – naturally healthy, fortified foods, better-for-you, and organic products. There is massive scope for ingestible beauty products. This trend is encouraging people to consider what they consume for the best skin and haircare results. Companies are investing sizeable sums into incorporating traditional Chinese herbs such as jiang hiang into their line-up.
Neighbouring India has a longstanding heritage of Ayurvedic medicine and spices such as turmeric, chilli, and garlic have been part of the cuisine for centuries. Recently, Indian companies have begun adding vitamin A to Vanaspati and milk to counteract the high prevalence of diabetes and cardiovascular ailments in the subcontinent.
The functional food market is comparatively less developed in Europe compared to the U.S. or even Japan. In a report by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, the per capita expenditure on functional foods in Japan and the U.S. is 4x and 2x higher than the EU respectively. Nevertheless, there is genuine interest for functional foods across the continent and companies are selling their wares in larger supermarkets such as Tesco, Lidl, and Aldi instead of specialty stores to gain maximum traction. The U.S market has been characterized by the launch of functional foods that claim to prevent disease with sales of functional beverages such as shelf-stable water and prebiotic plant milks growing in triple digits there. Weight reduction is a primary goal of U.S consumers and companies are launching products that help consumers achieve this.
Constant Product Launches Vital to Stay Ahead of Rivals in Functional Foods Market
Companies profiled in the report on the functional foods market are Dean Foods, Danone, Nestle, Marico, General Mills, Unilever, Mondelez International, Stonyfield Farm, Inc., Yakult Honsha, Sanitarium Health, Raisio Group, FrieslandCampina, Kraft Foods Inc, Kellogs, and The Kraft Heinz Company.
In 2020, Danone unveiled Silk Kids Almondmilk Yogurt Alternative for the U.S. market. The yoghurt alternative has 25% less sugar per ounce than other options and is fortified with Vitamin D and Calcium. The lactose free yoghurt is available in three flavours of Strawberry, Apple Cinnamon, and Mixed Berry.
In 2021, the Indian FMCG conglomerate, Marico, entered the market for plant-based meat in the subcontinent. The company unveiled soy-based meat-style pieces in West Bengal to promote a ‘healthier lifestyle’. The company states that their soy chunks are a good source of vegetable protein, low on fat, and high in fibre.
Key Elements Included In The Study: Global Functional Food Market
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