Ask most industry trend spotters about what’s hot in food and beverage, and functional ingredients often show up near the top of the list. Lauded for body-enhancing properties beyond simple nutrition (such as probiotic health and weight-loss management), functional ingredients have, in recent years, shown up in everything from juice and soda to beef jerky and snack bars.
According to a recent report published by market research firm Packaged Facts, major consumer demographics like Baby Boomers and millennials are increasingly seeking out better-for-you products, particularly ones made with functional ingredients, as a way to avoid chronic illness and to optimize everyday health.
The report from Packaged Facts comes on the heels of a 2014 study by the Institute of Food Technologists which found that that six out of 10 U.S. adults seek out specially formulated functional foods and beverages for occasional consumption.
In its report, Packaged Facts keys in on five functional ingredients that the company expects to see growing interest and demand for in 2015. The list may provide critical insight for our FBU entrepreneurs on ways to attract consumer interest via the infusion of these ingredients in new products.
- Microalgae: The manufacturing of microalgae like seaweed, spirulina, and chlorella has been a very exciting development for the food industry. The microalgae are not only a good source of protein, but also contain dietary fiber and healthy fats. Scientists are able to grow them in controlled environments and from a marketing perspective, the micronutrient also qualifies as non-GMO, sustainable, vegan, and non-allergenic.
- Protein: The protein trend is not new to the market. Marketers continue to promote protein as a way to control hunger, provide energy, and aid in weight loss. But as consumers focus on sustainability and health, the upward trend in protein is actually directed toward plant protein sources, which are healthier, more sustainable, and minimize on known allergens.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Most Americans still don’t get enough of this prominent fat, which provides benefits to the heart, brain, and immune system. While there are concerns over the sustainability and prices of the marine sources – mostly anchovies, sardines, and herring – from which fish oils are made, there is a push for more plant and algal-based sources of the fat.
- Vitamin D: The FDA is proposing changes for vitamin D on nutrition facts panels. The proposed update would change vitamin D, a key supplement in bone health, from a voluntary nutrient to a mandatory one, along with adjusting the recommended daily value. Because of this, marketers will be looking for opportunities to add vitamin D to a variety of foods. Currently, only about 32 percent of consumers are getting their daily recommended value of the vitamin.
- Magnesium: Only about 60 to 80 percent of Americans get enough magnesium in their diet, according to Packaged Facts. The mineral is essential in converting vitamin D into its active form. In addition, research shows magnesium plays a crucial role in enzymatic and biochemical reactions, along with hypertension, inflammation, asthma, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes. It’s many benefits in conjunction with its inadequate presence in the American diet makes way for manufacturers to start highlighting magnesium on its labels.