U.S. Functional Food Trends: Understanding consumer wants around foods that provide benefits beyond basic nutrition

Nov 2018| MDK021A| Datassential

Report Highlights

Consumer awareness of functional foods is in the early stages but has reached the consciousness of the majority of consumers. Functional foods are more on the radar of Millennials than any other age cohort.

Interest in functional foods is high overall but driven by higher income consumers as well as non-white consumers and those with children.

For the vast majority of consumers facing a health issue – major or minor – food plays some role in addressing or controlling that issue. For most, the role food plays in managing a health issue is very or extremely important.

Availability at both restaurants (primarily) and retail (secondarily) is an obstacle for functional foods, and scientific claims will be important in supporting acceptance. Some confusion exists both with existing product categories – organic, whole, natural, superfoods – and overall.

While naturally functional items are of greatest interest, there is general interest in fortified and enriched products and customized ingredient adds, with little significant pushback.

Consumers, for the most part, are interested in functional health benefits that solve for day-to-day issues versus higher-level issues such as organ health, anti-aging, cognitive function, or mood enhancement.

The key exception is heart health which has been an ongoing issue in food for many years and continues to capture consumer interest and concern.

Among those aware of specific terms, nutrient categories that have long been associated with food have the greatest perceived functional benefits, such as fiber, calcium, and vitamins. Newer categories such as adaptogens, phytochemicals, and lipoproteins have yet to build a strong case for functional benefits, even among those aware.

What has your food done for you lately? Consumers don’t just want to know that their food is filling them up, they want to know what it’s doing for their body: if it’s aiding in digestion, clearing their skin, or helping their eyesight. Dozens of new terms have entered the food lexicon in the past several years to describe the functional phenomena related to food, from adaptogens to flavonoids to probiotics. Learn more about the who, what, and why of the rapidly-changing functional landscape today.

Consumer Awareness & Understanding of Terminology
Learn how much consumers know about the terminology surrounding functional foods, and how functional foods compare to other health-related food trends. Discover which terms move the needle at home and in foodservice.

Awareness & Interest in Functional Foods
Discover which functional foods consumers love, which they know, and which are still relatively unknown. Explore which foods consumers regard as functional. See how consumer affinity for functional foods varies by generation.

Attitudes Toward Functional Trends
Learn which functional benefits consumers are looking for, and which they truly believe they can get from their food and beverages. Compare the percentage of consumers who are interested in functional foods to those who actually buy.

Definitions & Other Relevant Info
Uncover what you need to know about the most important functional foods, beverages, and terminology.

Datassential, a Chicago-based food industry research and consulting firm, brings clients real-world information on foodservice and consumer packaged goods in the U.S. and around the world. The company’s services, including its extensive MenuTrends database, provide in-depth reporting on trends in menu offerings, flavor profiles, ingredients and preparations. Datassential helps operators, retailers, and suppliers understand and capitalize on these important trends.

Datassential makes the food industry smarter. We provide trend software, predictive analytics, and consumer insights that help manufacturers, food retailers, and chain restaurants innovate and sell more intelligently.

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