Saturday, July 12, 2008

Functional Food Trends

The new It thing when it comes to dieting is Functional Food (any fresh or processed food claimed to have a health-promoting and/or disease-preventing property beyond the basic nutritional function of supplying nutrients – Wikipedia).

These are the top 10 most popular trends in this field, according to Food Technology Magazine.

1. Healthy Household Halo

57% of Americans make more effort to eat and shop healthier. 53% of adults are controlling their diet – 61% for weight, 36% cholesterol, 22% blood sugar, 18% high blood pressure, and 14% diabetes. Parents’ concerns for their children’s health are beginning to have effects on the market and there are new healthy products with, for example, DHA added for brain development and a probiotic for digestive health. Omega 5 oil is highly recommended.

2. Natural End Benefits

As we know, there are foods called superfood (high phytonutrient content that confers health benefits as a result – Wikipedia). Examples are pomegranates, cacao, soy, flax seed, broccoli, blueberries, raspberries, spinach, tomatoes and walnuts.

3. Weight loss

Only 12% of adults trying to lose weight follow a diet. The South Beach Diet has been renamed to South Beach Living. Reducing portion sizes is second only to exercise as the most common weight-control method. Other methods are cutting calories, cutting fat calories, and cutting carbs. Satiety is a new weapon in the war on weight.

4. Contemporary Conditions

The demand for condition-specific foods is skyrocketing. Heart disease and cancer is America’s top health concerns and one-third of consumers are making a strong effort to eat foods with omega-3s, DHA or EPA.

5. Proactive Lifestyles

With the majority of consumers trying to live a preventive lifestyle, fortified foods and beverages have quickly become a way of life. Consumers are making a strong effort to get more of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. While limiting fat remains a cornerstone of healthy living, consumers are as concerned about the type of fat as they are about the amount. They are also recognizing the potential for functional foods in other lifestyle areas such as improving immunity.

6. Simpler, Greener and Cleaner

Many consumers are taking a simpler, more natural approach to the foods they eat, looking for foods with only a few ingredients and as fresh and close to the farm as time and budget will allow. Organic food sales are continuing to grow and consumers believe local products are fresher, have fewer pesticides, and are of higher quality.

7. Smart Treats

Consumers are looking for snacks with more nutrition and lower calorie value. Better-for-you chips, trail mix, rice, popcorn cakes, nuts, freeze-dried fruits, and yoghurt are examples of snacks in demand.

8. Sensitivity Training

The number of adults who perceive that they, or their children, suffer from food allergies continues to grow, creating lucrative markets, disproportionate to their true medical base. 37% of consumers are concerned about gastrointestinal issues. Awareness of probiotic-containing and fiber-enhanced products has been substantially raised.

9. Vitality Treadmill

Energy is the top reason consumers are making a dietary change. B-vitamins and vitamins overall are the nutrients consumers believe most important to achieve high energy levels. Of all new functional food concepts, consumers are most interested in new products that improve mental performance. The demand for sleep-inducing foods is at an all-time high.

10. New Venues

The most important factor driving the healthy and functional foods market mainstream is the increased accessibility of healthy products through additional channels. With today’s grab-and-go lifestyle, convenience stores have become a powerhouse for sales of healthy products. Restaurants are another fast-emerging venue for healthy and functional foods. Vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, low-fat, gluten-free, light, organic, trans fat-free, natural, healthy, and low-calorie are the top 10 health claims on menus.

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