Top Ten Functional Food Trends for 2016

April 26, 2016

CHICAGO— The April 2016 issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) features Contributing Editor A. Elizabeth Sloan’s insights on the top 10 functional food trends for 2016. Sloan gathered data from a multitude of industry resources to come up with the following trends.

  1. Men in the Aisles: Single male households are on the rise and men now account for 43 percent of primary shopping and 46 percent help with food preparation (FMI 2015). Claims related to sodium content are very important to 56 percent of male shoppers, followed by claims related to sugar content, calories, total fat, trans fat, cholesterol, saturated fat and protein (Packaged Facts).
  2. Gray Matters: By 2019, half of the U.S. population will be over 50 years old and will account for more than half of all consumer product spending (IRI 2014). Adults aged 55-64 are the most likely to be trying to lose weight; those aged 65-plus are most likely to be trying to maintain weight (Packaged Facts 2015).
  3. Chemical Consciousness: Clean claims have more appeal than generally healthy descriptors. Preservative-free is second only to no trans-fat/no partially hydrogenated oils as the most important consumer food claim (Mintel 2015). Eight in 10 adults define preservative-free foods/beverages as healthy, and 78 percent say no artificial ingredients translates to healthy. Other attributes associated with healthfulness include antibiotic- or hormone free, natural, unprocessed, organic, not genetically modified, clean and real (Technomic 2014).
  4. Personalized Nutrition Plans: In 2015, 30 percent of food shoppers participated in at least one specialized eating plan (FMI 2014). Millennials were the most likely to adopt a specialized eating approach as well as the most likely to try more than one plan and tended to favor vegetarian, juice cleanse/detox, Paleo, or vegan styles of eating. Older generations were most likely to go lactose-free (FMI 2015).
  5. A New Natural Hierarchy: Minimally processed foods/ natural ingredients were cited for the first time among the “hot” culinary trends for 2016 identified by the American Culinary Federation (NRA 2015). One quarter of consumers say that their food habits characterize them as living a minimally processed lifestyle and 30 percent are making a strong effort to eat more minimally processed foods (NBJ 2015, MSI 2014). Although half of consumers are still unsure of the definition of GMO, after hearing a brief definition 45 percent would avoid GMOs if they could (FMI 2015).
  6. Lifestyle Enhancers: Consumers, especially women and young adults, are increasingly concerned about conditions that impact their ability to function day by day. Food/beverages that provide energy throughout the day appeal to 30 percent of adults, 26 percent are looking for more mental energy, 14 percent morning energy and 7 percent an energy boost later in the day (HealthFocus 2015).
  7. Definitely Deficient: According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Americans are not consuming enough of some nutrients. Sixty-four percent of adults regularly looked for foods/beverages with added vitamins or minerals in 2015. Although this is a 9 percent drop over the past 5 years, 82 percent feel fortified foods are a convenient way to get their nutrients and that they’re extremely important for children (Hartman 2015, MSI 2014).
  8. Food MD: High cholesterol, followed by weight loss, high blood pressure, weight management, digestive health, improving heart health, energy, immunity and joint/bone health are the top health concerns motivating consumers to seek out functional foods/beverages. (Packaged Facts, 2015).
  9. Wholly Functional: One-third of consumers strongly agree that naturally occurring nutrients in foods are better for them than added nutrients, 36 percent agree somewhat and 30 percent of adults describe themselves as living a “whole foods” lifestyle (Packaged Facts 2015, NBJ 2015).
  10. Healthy Convenience: One in five adults eats on the run, grabbing food whenever they can (Wyatt 2015). Fifty-five percent of households have at least one brown-bagger and 20 percent bring beverages from home. Snacks account for nearly half of all meal occasions and 16 percent of all eating occasions are immediate consumption meaning food eaten within 60 minutes of purchase (Hartman 2014).

Read the full Food Technology article here.


About IFT

Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government, and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.