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Report: Who's Driving the Functional Foods Market?

<p>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. But who exactly is driving growth in the functional foods sector?</p>

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. But who exactly is driving growth in the functional foods sector?

According to new research from Packaged Facts, there are three key demographics driving the growth of functional foods: Millennials, Baby Boomers and health-conscious and exercise-centric 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," said Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle. 

Per the Packaged Facts report, Functional Foods: Key Trends & Developments in Ingredients, Millennials are more likely to partake in food products fortified with calcium, fiber and vitamins and minerals, and are driving the trend toward more frequent and healthier snacking. Millennials seek appealing, more-healthful snack foods, including everything from yogurt to fresh fruit to nutrition bars.

Not surprisingly, Baby Boomers want functional foods to help prevent or mitigate age-related conditions or diseases. To do so, aging adults seek ingredients that can benefit age-related conditions, including fiber, antioxidants, heart-healthy ingredients, vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium and whole grains.

Baby Boomers reportedly control 70 percent of U.S. disposable income and drive, to a large extent, demand for healthy food products. This means ripe opportunity for developers of functional products that want to target the aging demographic.

On a grander scale, consumers are developing a greater understanding of nutritional needs associated with athletic activity and performance and the persistently high obesity rates, which also contributes to a robust market for functional foods and beverages. As a result, the report noted most food processors expect weight management and cardiovascular health to be the top issues to consider over the next two years while developing foods, beverages and dietary supplements. 

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