Will functional foods still be relevant in the future?

functional foods market

The Covid-19 health crisis has considerably expanded consumer awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and they increasingly expect their food to offer functional benefits. This expectation among consumers is a key driver behind the ongoing success of functional foods. Indeed, the global functional foods market was valued at 259 billion US dollars in 2020, with the market expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.5% to reach 530 billion US dollars by 2028.[1]

In this article we take a look at two types of functional solutions that are currently very popular: drinks and gummies. We will also explain why postbiotics are ingredients of choice for this type of product.

Strong growth in functional drinks

Functional drinks are increasingly used by athletes, due to their practicality. They also meet the needs of those who wish to adopt a healthier lifestyle by replacing soft drinks, for example. They meet consumer expectations in terms of practicality, health benefits and taste.

Moreover, consumers are willing to reduce their plastic consumption and therefore their use of mineral water bottles. Functionality is a way to assure the future of bottled mineral water. Added value must be provided to the product to overcome this disincentive to purchase.

The global market for functional mineral waters is growing strongly. Its market value has increased from 12.86 billion US dollars in 2020 to 13.80 billion US dollars in 2021.[2] Bottled functional waters are increasingly marketed in response to consumers’ health needs, in particular to their concerns and expectations relating to digestion, immunity and slimming.

Gummies: functional foods that fit into a healthier lifestyle

Gummies are a perfect example of functionalization. A product with the appearance of food/candy but with positive health benefits. The food supplements market has been able to reinvent itself to meet consumer expectations. Gummies have been very successful, especially in the US. Indeed, market share grew to 2.6 billion US dollars by 2021. A global market growth of 23% compared to 2020: an exceptional development in the supplement area.[3]

Since the Covid-19 health crisis, consumers are increasingly concerned about their health, but do not want to miss out on convenience and taste. These new food supplements respond to this problem because they combine both health and eating pleasure.

Gummies are thus a way to functionalize products in a playful way. These products are unique as they are on the borderline between food supplements and food. Manufacturers can then position themselves around numerous health promises while allowing good compliance with these functional foods and therefore good effectiveness.

Postbiotics: a key ingredient for functional foods

Postbiotics are particularly effective ingredients to include in functional solutions. Indeed, this category of ingredients meets the needs of consumers who make increasingly informed choices of functional products based on efficacy and scientific evidence. Postbiotics are ingredients that provide a proven health benefit without the risk of bacteremia as the microorganisms are inanimate. Moreover, there is no risk of acquisition or retransfer of antibiotic resistance genes. 

Most of all, these inactivated microorganisms are of great interest for manufacturers. Postbiotics are highly stable and very convenient to integrate into functional foods and beverages.

This is especially the case for our LBiome™ ingredient which contains Lactobacillus LB, a unique and pioneering postbiotic. Around 50 studies have demonstrated its effectiveness on digestive health and immunity. This meets consumers’ expectations in terms of the effectiveness of their functional foods.

These are 2 markets that are increasingly converging. On the one hand, the trend is to “functionalize” food and drink to make them more useful from a health point of view. On the other hand, we are moving towards a preventive approach, with the market tending towards more accessible food supplements by giving them a less medical aspect.

[1] Fortune Business Insights, Global functional food and beverage market, 2020.

[2] Fortune Business Insights

[3] SPINS, 2021.

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