Market researcher Leatherhead Food International predicts 4-6 percent annual growth for a market it tightly defines as one that contains only those that make on-product health claims or directly imply health claims and which was worth $7.123bn in 2009.
“In the US the beverages market has lead the functional foods category for some time,” Leatherhead wrote in a report that scanned the US, five western European nations, Japan and Australia.
“The biggest sector within beverages is energy drinks and energy shots which dominate the market ahead of all other categories. The US market for gut health products is also now growing strongly and competing with European markets with companies such as Dannon (subsidiary of Danone) leading innovation in the active health drinks category.”
Of the markets assessed, the UK-based research house predicted the market that stood at $22.923bn in 2009 would surge 18.3 percent to $27.126bn in 2015 – at an annual growth rate of about 3-5 percent. The US market will claim 31.8 percent of this pie.
At 31.1 percent, the US was the second largest market in 2009 behind Japan (39.2 percent). The five European markets (UK, Spain, Italy, France, Germany) claimed 28.1 percent and Australia 1.6 percent.
Leatherhead noted that other estimates placed the US market at $20bn, but they used a broader definition of functional foods.
After beverages, cereal products were the next biggest category, with wholegrain and oat content being flagged and heart health claims made. Soy products are the next biggest category. Together the three categories make up 85 percent of the US market.
“In general, the US market for functional foods is very different in nature from those in Japan, Australia and Europe, with a much higher level of interest in dietary supplements. This has influenced market development in terms of greater interest in anti-cancer properties of certain botanicals, already targeted by a wide range of supplement products.”