Functionality is certainly not new to the consumer packaged goods industry. Over the past few years, an increased number of products have launched on a functional platform to address a particular ailment or health concern. Among these top health-centric product attributes is brain and nervous system support--a fairly niche stance in the arena of functional product claims. Items complementing brain health initially derived from the beverage category, but have recently expanded into several food sub-groups.

When comparing the percent change of launches in 2008 vs. 2006, a notable 70% of the top 10 sub-categories under brain health functionality increased in product introductions. Tea was the most popular segment supporting brain health, which is fitting, considering the segment’s longstanding affiliation with health and well-being. Milk products tied to brain health grew exponentially in global introductions, after more manufacturers marketed their dairy brands’ ingredients to promote improved cognitive functioning.

In the U.S., Coca-Cola expanded its Minute Maid brand after introducing a Pomegranate Blueberry 100% Fruit Juice Blend varietal. Positioned to “Help Nourish Your Brain,” its formula consists of ingredients known to stimulate brain activity healthfully. Some of these beneficiary ingredients include antioxidants, DHA, choline and vitamins B12, C and E. Many consumers also have a high regard for the pomegranate blueberry flavor because of the naturally high antioxidants levels of these two fruits.

Information in this column is from the Global New Products Database, the premier source of global product intelligence, published by Mintel International Group; 351 W. Hubbard, 8th Floor; Chicago, IL 60610; call: 312-932-0600; fax: 312-932-0474; or e-mail