The Top Ten Functional Food Trends A. Elizabeth Sloan | April 2014, Volume 68, No.4

Specialty nutritional ingredients, the emergence of a health-oriented Hispanic market segment, and consumers’ ongoing interest in protein consumption are driving new opportunities for functional foods and drinks.

Healthy Hispanics
Meeting today's health and wellness food/beverage demands has evolved into a complex—often seemingly contradictory—process of delivering health benefits through a combination of core whole/real food nutritional value and added specialty health ingredients.

In 2013, "ingredients added for special health benefits" and "higher in nutrients" (e.g., whole grains, fiber), were the top two attributes that made a food product good for health and wellness, according to one research group (Hartman, 2013a).

Moreover, healthfulness is also now a reflection of a combination of attributes—fresh, real, avoidance of certain substances, inclusion of positives, high quality, close to the farm, and, for some, ethical practices or humane treatment. Wellness is seen as positive, shifting from illness, "have to," and treatment to vitality, "taking care," and fun/indulgence (Hartman, 2013a).

In 2013, 58% of consumers thought a lot about the healthfulness of their foods/beverages, 47% thought a lot about food ingredients, and 40% frequently turned their thoughts to food safety (IFIC, 2013a).

Eight in 10 adults made some effort to eat healthier last year, and one-third (34%) made a lot of effort—behavior patterns that are unchanged over the past six years (FMI, 2013).

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Health influenced the food purchase decisions of 64% of consumers, up from 61% in 2012 (IFIC, 2013a). The combination of nutritional benefits, indulgence, and culinary/gourmet excitement is the key to consumers' decisions to try new healthy food products (IRI, 2014). With statistics like the preceding in mind, it's not surprising that seven out of the top 10 best-selling new U.S. foods/beverages introduced in 2013 had a healthier-for-you positioning (IRI, 2014).

Dannon's Light & Fit Greek yogurt, with first-year sales of $144.9 million, was the best-selling new food product of 2013, followed by Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt, $135.1 million; Kellogg's Special K Pastry Crisps snack bars, $100.6 million; Tostitos Cantina Tortilla Chips, $100.3 million; Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita, $97.4 million; Müller yogurt, $95.8 million; Eight O'Clock K Cups coffee, $89.8 million; Pepsi NEXT, $83.2 million; Kellogg's Special K Flatbread Breakfast Sandwiches, $77.9 million; and Atkins frozen meals, $74.0 million (IRI, 2014).

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