Speaking at SupplySide West last week panelists Garrett Lindemann, Andy Donner and Amanda Steele gave tips from their experiences in securing places in the functional foods market. "The easiest way to enter the market is to find a product that already may be healthful," said Lindemann, co-founder and CEO of Wyoming-based Gourmetceuticals. "The important thing for us is that they are interested in maintaining this market positioning." Gourmetceuticals dubs itself a research-based culinary technology company that markets nutraceutical ingredients for gourmet functional foods. Lindemann said it is then important for ingredients manufacturers to stay involved with the product in order to not lose control of the integrity of their ingredient and the extensive research and development that may have occurred in order to bring it to market. Differentiating a product is a key factor in conveying to consumers what makes a product different as well as potentially beneficial to their health. The investment behind this can be significant. Donner and Steele gave their experience in partnering to bring Dreamerz teas to market. These functional teas are marketed for sleep enhancing effects. Steele, the CEO of Dreamerz Foods, saw a need for products that encourage sleep, given that as many as 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. After identifying a market opportunity, Psychic Ventures then became involved as an investor. "We like to have a seat at the table in the crafting of a company," said Donner, director of Psychic Ventures, a San Francisco investor. According to Lindemann, consumers are actually more interested in enhancing their quality of life than in adding years to it. As well, the pursuit of health can have a ripple effect he said. For instance, family members of someone with a disease who is trying to be healthier will in turn adopt this person's new ways. A recent survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation found that more than 80 percent of Americans say they already consumer or are interested in consuming functional food and beverages. According to IFIC, while taste and price continue to be the biggest influence on Americans' food consumption decisions, the importance of "healthfulness" grew from 58 percent in 2006 to 65 percent in 2007. The web survey drew on the responses of 1,000 participants, weighted to US Census according to age, education and gender.