Although obesity and related health conditions are causing huge concern on a global scale, the market researcher says that this is only part of the reason why global sales of 'better for you' foods reached almost $129 billion (€106 billion) in 2004.
Rather than waiting to become sick or overweight, many consumers are looking at their diet in an effort to prevent that from happening in the first place.
Although the 'better for you' category is dominated by global brands like Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi and Wrigley Orbit, sales are also being pushed up by local brands and private labels.
Euromonitors says that, to some extent, functional ingredients have moved in to fill the void left by the demise of the low carb trend. Global sales of functional foods and beverages having increased by 20 percent between 2002 and 2004 to be worth $68 billion (€56 billion), leading it to conclude that "research suggests that the sector would seem a logical choice for manufacturer investment".
In particular, it identified two ingredients that emerged in 2005 that have risen to massive popularly on both sides of the Atlantic: omega-3 and wholegrains.
Research into the link between wholegrains and heart health has led cereal makers to reformulate their product offerings on both sides of the market. Additionally, wholegrain yoghurts and yoghurt drinks have been proving popular in western Europe.
As for omega-3, the report says: "National legislative differences mean that some potential functional ingredients may never make it onto the mass market, but omega-3 has cleanly jumped this hurdle to become the big hit for 2005."
In the UK it seems that supplements are the preferred delivery form for fish oils, accounting for 50 percent of fish oil supplement sales in Europe. In other European countries however omega-3 foods like milk, yoghurt, cheese and bread have become popular.
While at present omega-3 foods are aimed mostly at children, Euromonitor says there is scope for age-specific products, both in foods and supplements, to meet the needs of ageing populations.
Indeed, this is a trend that has been identified in the global dietary supplements and vitamins market as a whole, which experienced 6 percent growth in 2004.
Contrary to the general wellness trend in foods, customers are demanding age-specific supplements, which have led to the reformulation of multivitamins to meet the needs of, say, over 50s or young women. Disease specific supplements, such as lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health and glucosamine for joint health, have also grown substantially.