Functional products grow in diversity and popularity

By Laura Crowley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Functional foods providing health and beauty benefits are
experiencing overwhelming growth with Americans spending more than
$27bn on such products in 2007, says a new report.

The average American consumer now spends $90 a year on functional foods and beverages, according to the "Emerging Health and Wellness Culinary Trend Mapping Report"​ from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and Packaged Facts, and the market is awash with innovation to meet this demand. For example, worldwide launches of products containing omega-3s increased by 40 percent in the first 11 months of 2007. While antioxidants are now well established in the healthy foods arena, new launches are covering niche functions such as warding off wrinkles, increasing satiety and improving memory. "Baby boomers are pushing the envelope for holding onto fitness and vitality,"​ said Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD. "Their Gen Y kids are convinced that a little delicious daily maintenance now can keep them youthful for years to come." ​She added: "What better way to reach consumers that through something that tastes good, while speaking to our deepest need to take control of our own health and happiness." Latest emerging trends ​Beauty foods and huetrition, that is, nutrients inherent in natural pigments of foods such as antioxidants and vitamins, are two new areas in the healthy and wellness foods sector, according to the report. "Aging Baby Boomers and their neutraceutical-savvy daughters are heeding edible beauty messages with the promise of gentler, more natural ways to look good,"​ said the report. Boomers account for a third of the US population, spending about $2tn each year, with a growing proportion of their spending going on products that meet their desire for vitality. Another report by Packaged Facts published earlier this year, placed particular focus on the generation's desire for health and youth-enhancing complexion. Foods and beverages containing antioxidants, collagen and other skin-improving compounds have been gaining in popularity amongst boomers. Meanwhile, the new report said that huetrition "has the potential to gain serious traction".​ The idea is that eating as many colors as possible will provide full nutrient benefits - a concept that is particularly appealing to kids. Brain foods ​Products formulated with amino acids, vitamins and proteins to stimulate brain function have proved to be not just a passing trend, with 450 brain foods and drinks launched in 2007. Well established products in this sector include Red Bull energy drink, which has experienced growing success since its launch about 10 years ago. However, the report said there is now a new emphasis on natural botanical extracts, with success predicted amongst the 35 plus demographic for drinks such as Brain Toniq. Brain foods have limited availability at the moment, sold mainly in specialist shops. But they are set to appear more and more in general grocery stores. More established trends ​With obesity being a continuing problem amongst Americans, more and more are seeking satiating products. This has given rise to increased innovation, as well as re-marketing traditional fiber-rich foods, like beans and vegetables, as providing satiety. Moods foods have now become a stage three trend - meaning they have now entered mainstream restaurants and retail stories. While demand is strong in Japan for mood foods, the North American market is less diverse. The market is generally restricted to beverages here, such as vitamin water. Demand for products promoting immunity and digestive health are experiencing yet more growth, said the report.

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