Consumers, Industry, and Functional Foods

  From the January 25, 2016 issue of Agri-News
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 Here’s a question: how do consumers and industry feel about functional foods?

“According to the 2013 International Food and Information Council Functional Foods Consumer Survey, the vast majority of Americans are aware of functional foods and believe that good nutrition can be used to manage health and 90 per cent of Americans agree that certain foods have health benefits beyond basic nutrition,” says Ava Duering, competitiveness analyst, AF, Edmonton. “Approximately 75 per cent of consumers expressed concern that they are not getting the nutrients and food components they need for good health.”

Functional foods were first introduced in Japan in the 1980s. They foods contain bioactive food compounds or physiologically active nutrients and non-nutrients. While there is no legal definition for functional foods, a common definition is that a functional food provides health benefits beyond basic nutrition.

“Functional food demand is being driven by the increased consumer awareness of health and wellness across all age spectrum,” says Duering. “Key to this are more health engaged consumers, more and healthier snacking by millennials, aging baby boomers, and the need to combat obesity.”

According to a recent survey of food processors by BNP Media Inc.’s Market Research Division, companies are getting also on board with functional foods. The survey found that:

  • 63% of companies are developing or marketing functional foods
  • about 25% produce or market functional, non-dairy beverages
  • 24% work with energy shots
  • 23% are involved with functional dairy beverages
  • 19% work with dietary supplements
  • 17% are involved in developing nutritional supplements including nutraceuticals, phytochemicals, herbs or botanicals
According to the same survey the industry feels the following functional food ingredients will be the most important over the next year:
  • antioxidants (71%)
  • fruit and vegetable extracts and powders (68%)
  • prebiotics and dietary fiber (63%)
  • probotic bacteria and cultures (62%)
  • superfruits (59%)
  • botanicals (56%)
  • algae and microalgae (38%)
“What these numbers means for the industry is that there are opportunities for Alberta’s primary and processing industry to capitalize on the growing demand for functional food,” says Duering. “Although no one knows exactly the duration of interest in any food trend, the increased consumer awareness of health and wellness will continue to fuel interest in functional foods for the foreseeable future.”

For further information go to Consumer Corner on AF’s webpage.

Ava Duering
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Ava Duering.
This document is maintained by Ken Blackley.
This information published to the web on January 14, 2016.