Information from the group's Global New Products Database (GNPD) reveals that 1333 new functional foods and beverages were launched in the United States over the past five years.
During the five-year period, the largest overall increase in new functional foods and beverages was seen in 2007, with the introduction of 558 new products. This compares to 223 in 2006, 208 in 2005, 181 in 2004 and 163 in 2003.
Unsurprisingly, heart health was the functional food category that saw the most product launches last year.
GNPD data revealed a massive 244 percent increase in new introductions in this category - from 43 products in 2006 to 148 in 2007. In 2003, only 22 new products were launched in this category, followed by 19 in 2004 and 54 in 2005.
The rapid increase in product launches is a clear sign that the food industry is responding to growing concerns on maintaining heart health, as national figures for sufferers of the disease continue to rise - largely a result of an increase in obesity across the country.
Products designed to maintain a healthy digestive system were also popular last year, with 103 new items launched on the market. This is equivalent to an increase of 134 percent from the previous year, when 44 new products were launched.
Perhaps most notable though, is the fact that in 2003 Mintel recorded no products launched in this segment.
However, as awareness started to pick up, foods and drinks aimed at maintaining digestive health started to trickle onto the market: four new products were introduced in 2004, and 19 in 2005.
The third largest functional food category in terms of new product launches last year was the brain and nervous system.
Mintel recorded 61 new items launched in the US last year, compared to 15 in 2006, 14 in 2005, 7 in 2004 and 2 in 2003.
This category saw 47 new products last year, compared to 14, 17, 6 and 2 in the four previous years respectively.
Women, beauty and bones
Functional food categories that still remain niche, with relatively few new products introduced include foods with benefits in bone health, those targeting women, and those that claim to deliver beauty benefits.
According to GNPD, over the past fives years there were 30, 29 and 25 new products launched in these categories respectively.
Data source: Mintel's Global New Product Database (GNPD )