The growing popularity of fortified and functional foods – in preference to nutritional supplements – was identified as the top of 10 US functional food trends, according to the Chicago-based Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).
Named as Specialty nutritionals, the trend reflected the fact nearly nine in 10 adults were eating more nutrients, vitamins, minerals, herbs and botanicals, while including more fish oil and omega-3s in their diets. “Maintaining a healthy digestive system and immune health also are top health priorities and probiotics will play a key role in 2014,” said the report.
The other top four trends were: Get real, Hispanic health, Protein evolution and Kid-specific.
Get real referred to six in 10 consumers looking for recognisable ingredients when food shopping and seeking out foods made with simple, real and natural ingredients. More than half of consumers searched for foods containing no artificial ingredients, while one quarter of adults bought organic foods and beverages, according to research.
Hispanic health was identified after America’s 52M Hispanics spent an estimated $6.9bn on functional foods in 2012 and $9.4bn on natural and organic foods and drinks. This ethnic group was also the main user of energy drinks, shots, sports beverages and 100% juice or juice drinks, according to Packaged Facts.
“Hispanics are about twice as likely as the general population to spend whatever it takes to look younger and are often the first to try a new health food, nutritional product or diet,” said the report.
The Protein evolution trend was underlined by the fact 57% of consumers – particularly between the ages of 18–34 and above age 65 – sought protein sources. Their motivation was to maintain healthy bones and joints, strengthen immune systems, and build muscle strength and tone while maintaining energy levels.
Kid-specific reflected the fact that nearly half of America’s 32M mums who report buying health foods and drinks for their children are looking for a wider range of healthy, convenient products with appropriate nutrient and calorie levels. Research revealed 44% of children under age 12 consume organic foods and drinks at least once a week but mums are less likely to seek out organic produce as their children age.
The last five top 10 trends were listed as: Pharma foods, Alternatives, Performance nutrition, Weighing in and Gen zen.
Pharma foods was listed after research showed eight in 10 consumers believed functional foods could help prevent or delay the onset of heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes. Six in 10 associated functional foods with benefits linked to age-related memory loss, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. In 2012, 56% of consumers bought foods or drinks that targeted a specific condition, with cholesterol-lowering foods or drinks the most purchased condition-specific food or drink.
The Alternatives trend reflected the 80% of households occasionally eating meatless meals for dinner. Eggs were the most popular alternative, followed by beans, lentils and legumes.
Performance nutrition referred not only to athletes and body builders but also recreational sports participants, casual athletes and gym exercisers. Nearly six in 10 adults used a sports nutrition product in 2012. Combined consumer sales of sports nutrition supplements, nutrition bars, and energy drinks exceeded $24bn in 2012, up by 11.2%.
The Weighing in trend highlighted weight-conscious consumers’ decision to ditch deprivation-style weight loss campaigns in preference for healthier eating, while adding specific ingredients and nutrients to their diet. Topping the list of preferred ingredients and nutrients were: whole grains, fibre, and vitamin D.
The final trend, Gen zen reflected the growing popularity among millennials – those aged between 14–33 – for increasingly healthier, more expensive, more natural/organic, less processed, better tasting and fresh food.
“Millennials are also the most likely to believe that functional foods/beverages can be used in place of some medicines (NMI, 2012) to relieve tiredness/lack of energy, retain mental sharpness with aging, stress, and eye health,” said the report.
Read more about the top 10 trends identified in the IFT’s Food Technology magazine here .
The list was compiled by contributing editor Elizabeth Sloan after her review of industry sources.
Top 10 US functional food trends for 2014
- Specialty nutritionals: Consumers who once relied heavily on nutritional supplements are switching to fortified and functional foods.
- Get real: Six-out-of 10 consumers look for ingredients they can recognise while shopping for food and seek out foods made with simple, real and natural ingredients.
- Hispanic health: America’s 52M Hispanics spent an estimated $6.9bn on functional foods in 2012 and $9.4bn on natural/organic foods/drinks.
- The Protein evolution: The protein market is still centre stage with 57% of consumers, particularly between the ages of 18–34 and above age 65, seeking protein sources.
- Kid-Specific: Nearly half of America’s 32M mums who say they always buy health foods/drinks for their children are looking for a wider range of healthy, convenient, kid-friendly foods/drinks with nutrient and calorie levels specific to youngsters.
- Pharma foods: Eight-out-10 consumers believe that functional foods can help prevent or delay the onset of heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes.
- Alternatives: 80% of households now eat meatless meals for dinner on occasion and eggs are the most popular alternative followed by beans, lentils or legumes.
- Performance nutrition: Nearly six-out-of 10 adults used a sports nutrition product in 2012 and the combined consumer sales of sports nutrition supplements, nutrition bars, and energy drinks topped $24bn in 2012, up by 11.2%.
- Weighing in: Weight-conscious consumers have ditched deprivation-style weight loss campaigns in preference for healthy eating, while adding specific real food components and nutrients to their diets.
- Gen zen: Today’s millennials – aged between 14 and 33 – view their food choices as healthier, more expensive, more natural and or organic, less processed, better tasting and fresh.