Sector News

Functional ingredients: What consumers want

May 16, 2019
Food & Drink

“Everyday food and beverages have become the first stop to health management for baby boomers as well as millennials,” according to Proactive Health: Consumer Demand For Functional Benefits from Kerry. In the company’s study of 1,001 U.S. consumers, 66% of baby boomers, 64% of Gen X, and 71% of millennials said they are proactive with their health.

Kerry’s 2019 research looked at consumers’ health priorities, the role of added functionality in food, and consumers’ perception of 85 potentially functional ingredients. Consumer priorities are weight, mood, energy, and sleep, with people increasingly wanting support from their diets, especially with weight management and energy.

“A dramatic shift in priorities among health-conscious consumers finds them relying on food and dietary supplements as the dominant method to meet their health needs,” states the report. “While medication is the most popular solution for sleep support and mood management, consumers would prefer to use food and dietary supplements.” Kerry sees this preference as an opportunity for the food and beverage industry to develop products that offer these benefits.

What consumers view as functional
Consumers see the following ingredients as the top 20 that offer functional benefits:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids/DHA
  • Green tea
  • Honey
  • Coffee
  • Probiotics
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Oats
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Dark chocolate
  • Ginger
  • Ginseng
  • Melatonin
  • Avocado oil
  • Chamomile
  • Spinach
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Coconut oil
  • Lavender
  • Blueberries

The research also asked consumers to identify the ingredients they believed provided the most benefits for specific areas of health. For example, omega-3 fatty acids/DHA was the top choice for heart health, brain health, and bone/joint health. Green tea came out on top for weight management, while melatonin topped the list for sleep support. Honey was first for immune support, followed closely by probiotics, which topped the list for digestive health. Perception of the benefits of specific functional ingredients varied by generation.

Opportunities for added functionality
Consumers most often expect functional benefits from products in categories such as vitamins and supplements, nutritional beverages, yogurt, protein powders, and granola bars. Yet people do want functionality from other products. For example, Mintel research found U.S. consumers of ready-to-drink coffee want options that include antioxidants (47%), promote brain health (40%), are anti-inflammatory (35%), or have added probiotics (30%).

The Kerry research identified two currently overlooked opportunities for food companies to offer added functionality:

  1. Declining categories, such as breakfast cereals, smoothies, and juice
  2. Indulgent categories such as cookies, savory snacks, ready-to-drink coffee and tea, and chocolate

For food companies looking to add functional ingredients, Kerry has four recommendations:

  • Make added functionality accessible. Enhanced functionality in both healthy and indulgent categories gives consumers a range of food and beverages to include in everyday life.
  • Consider the right mix of functional benefits that complement the current product portfolio to differentiate and stay ahead of the competition.
  • Create added value by using functional ingredients that take into consideration the science, the supply chain, sustainability, and ethical sourcing.
  • Stay rooted in science. One way to deliver on a trend while giving consumers the benefits they want is to combine emerging ingredients (such as apple cider vinegar) with ingredients backed by strong scientific support (such as a science-supported probiotic).

By Carol Wiley

Source: Food Industry Executive

comments closed

Related News

June 24, 2022

Carlsberg announces resignation of CFO Heine Dalsgaard

Food & Drink

Carlsberg has announced the departure of its chief financial officer (CFO), Heine Dalsgaard, after six years in the position. In a statement, Carlsberg said that Dalsgaard was resigning from the post to take up the role of CFO at a private equity-backed company in a different industry.

June 24, 2022

Kellogg to split into three companies, focus on snacks

Food & Drink

Kellogg will split into three independent companies to focus on the snack business, Reuters reported Tuesday. The snacking portfolio will comprise the main business, while the North America cereal unit and the plant-based business will be spun off. The company is also considering a sale of the plant-based business.

June 24, 2022

Mondelēz to buy energy bar company Clif Bar for $2.9bn

Food & Drink

The snacks giant says the acquisition will help build on its commitment to “lead the future of snacking” in key geographies worldwide. Once the transaction is completed, Mondelēz will continue to operate the Clif Bar business from its headquarters in Emeryville, California. The snack giant will also continue to manufacture Clif Bars’ products, which include Clif Bar, Luna and Clif Kid, at its facilities in Idaho and Indiana.