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Are you winning in the functional food and beverage game?

functional foods
Busy consumers are looking for more from their foods and beverages. They want great-tasting foods and beverages that deliver efficacious doses of health-promoting ingredients with transparent processing methods and substantiated claims.

Increased consumer awareness of the long-term benefits of proper nutrition in overall health, as well as how it relates to specific health conditions, is driving new product development in the global market for functional food and beverages. Grand View Research Inc. estimates global sales of functional beverages will reach just shy of US$94 billion in 2019, while sales of functional foods—which garner the lion’s share of the functional pie—will hit $275 billion by 2025.

Since 2009, an increase of 49 percent of consumers believe consuming functional or fortified foods is important in maintaining their health. Such consumers have become resolute in making purposeful choices. Millennials represent the largest population of consumers—88 percent—who believe consuming functional food is important to a healthy lifestyle, followed by Gen Xers (42 percent) and Baby Boomers (36 percent).

Trending ingredients in functional foods include fiber, protein, fatty acids, carotenoids, vitamins and minerals, prebiotics and probiotics, just to name a few. Probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids are extensively consumed through yogurt and fish oils to reduce the instances and risks associated with cardiovascular diseases while improving the quality of intestinal microflora.

Traditionally, the functional beverage category was comprised of three main types--energy drinks, sports drinks and nutraceutical drinks. Energy drinks form the largest segment in the global functional drinks market, accounting for 55.8% of the total value in 2014, according to Grand View Research. However, in recent years, juices, waters, coffee, tea and fermented drinks like kombucha have become established players in the functional arena.

But slapping a health claim on a nutrition bar won’t get brands very far if it doesn’t deliver desired results. Product developers and brands must keep in mind consumers are looking for products that include efficacious levels of functional ingredients, such as protein, omega-3s, calcium, fiber etc., that can combat various diseases progression and provide promising health benefits.

Brands also must consider formulation challenges when working with functional ingredients. However, taste is always No. 1 in consumers’ minds, which means food developers must balance the beneficial effects of myriad nutritional ingredients and their chemical interactions during processing techniques such as HPP and UHT in the final product’s texture, appearance, stability, shelf life and cost. Outline your desired result and consult with your ingredient supplier to find the best ingredients to put the “function” in functional, as well as options to help counterbalance off-notes sometimes associated with certain ingredients, such as proteins and botanicals.

As more brands launch functional food and beverages, the NEXTY Awards at SupplySide West 2019 seek to honor the best.

Does your company make an innovative functional food or beverage that incorporates any of these trends? If so, I invite you to enter the NEXTY Awards at SupplySide West 2019 that recognize innovative and inspirational finished products launched to the U.S. consumer market between summer 2018 and July 26, 2019.

The NEXTY Awards at SupplySide West recognize innovation, inspiration and integrity across 13 finished product categories. Winning products represent what’s “next” in wellness trends, in solving today’s health and sustainability problems, in ingredient innovation, in packaging, in condition management, in supply chain growth and transparency, and in health impact.

Products must be submitted by the CPG brands or their representatives, not by ingredient or component suppliers. The submission deadline is July 26, 2019. Winners announced at SupplySide West in Las Vegas, Oct. 15-19, 2019.

For more than 20 years, SupplySide has helped those in the food, beverage, dietary supplement, animal nutrition, personal care and cosmetic industries break through the hype and ambiguity to find the information they need to explore, discover, innovate and market their next best-selling product.

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