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Leatherhead Releases Report on Functional Foods Market

Posted: June 13, 2011

Leatherhead Food Research released its newest report, focusing on “Future Directions for the Global Functional Foods Market,” which looks at sales of functional foods in the world’s key markets, as well as consumer attitudes and recent regulatory developments, industry structure and trends in new product activity. This market, which the report values at $24.2 billion in 2010, has increasingly grown since 2003, marking an expansion of almost 1.5 times, and it continues to grow faster than the headline growth rate of the global food and drink market of approximately 4% per year.

Factors affecting this growth include changes in consumer diets and lifestyles, reflecting an increased interest in health and well-being, as well as expanded scientific knowledge and capabilities, such as ingredient exploration and development. Consequently, Leatherhead reports, the number of new product introductions making functional claims has been growing by approximately 28% per year and the diversity of claims and suggested health benefits have been diversifying.

The report also notes that for the market to continue to grow, independent scientific research must document that these functional products offer the benefits they claim; these products still must maintain a reasonable price point in the face of continuing economic recovery; the European Food Safety Authority’s position on functional products and their claims, as legitimized functional claims are more likely to gain consumer trust; and the continued expansion of health, nutrition and wellness products for the world’s largest food and drink companies, and as a key driver in new markets.

Leatherhead’s SenseReach survey of more than 1,500 UK consumers revealed functional food consumption is fairly widespread; over a quarter claiming to consume functional products daily. However, just under a third of consumers surveyed claim they do not (and never will) consume functional food products because they do not believe they work. In fact, when all survey respondents were asked what would encourage them to eat more functional food products the majority stated they would like to see definitive proof, substantiated by independent science, that the product “does what it says on the tin.” The survey supports the widely held view that efficacy of health benefits claims is key to driving market growth and that consumption growth is more likely to come from increasing the frequency and volume of consumption of existing users rather than ‘converting’ those who do not buy into functional food products.