With proactive wellness and proper nutrition among leading consumer dietary trends, functional foods are emerging as an increasingly important part of the U.S. food retail landscape. Driving growth in the functional food segment are three important consumer demographic segments: Millennials, Baby Boomers, and health-engaged and exercise-conscientious consumers.
“Increased consumer awareness of health and wellness across the age spectrum and among those seeking to combat obesity will continue to fuel interest in functional foods for the foreseeable future, and therefore the ingredients selected for use and potential claims to be made by food processors and marketers,” says Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle.
Millennials are interested in optimizing current health and preventing declining health in the future. They are more likely to seek out food products fortified with calcium, fiber and vitamins and minerals, according to the report. In addition, Millennials are driving the trend toward more frequent and healthier snacking. Desirable, healthier snack foods are those that Millennials are comfortable selecting both in addition to and instead of traditional meals, offering flexibility to be consumed in either fashion. These include everything from yogurt to fresh fruit to nutrition bars.
Baby Boomers reportedly control 70% of U.S. disposable income and drive, to a large extent, demand for healthy food products. A majority of consumers in this demographic group want more of the ingredients that have been identified to help prevent or mitigate conditions that relate to aging and tend to afflict older consumers including fiber, antioxidants, heart-healthy ingredients, vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium and whole grains.
On a grander scale, well-accepted understanding of enhanced nutritional needs associated with athletic activity and performance and persistent high obesity rates, which are associated with chronic diseases and highlight the importance of weight loss and maintenance, also contribute to a robust market for functional foods and beverages. As a result, food processors are taking notice of the increased number of consumers embracing the concept of living a higher quality of life through an approach to health and wellness centered on nutritious food consumption and being active. According to the report, most food processors expect weight management and cardiovascular health to be the top issues for consideration over the next two years while developing foods, beverages and dietary supplements.