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The Functionality Factor

Meredith Hollihan, Mintel

Today’s consumers are more in tune to their bodies than ever before, with many seeking products that will further enhance their physical, mental and emotional condition. Globally, functional foods and beverages have been exhibiting growth across categories, demonstrating rising interest in products that promote health and general wellbeing. Many consumers believe that the consumption of a food or drink item should provide a benefit. Thus, functionality, from a health standpoint, has become a key measure that individuals use to justify their food and beverage choices.

A Clearer State of Mind

“Lack of clarity and sharpness” is a common complaint among stressed or tired adults. Overbooked schedules, married with generally hectic lifestyles, leave many feeling disorganized and clouded in their thought processes. Recognizing this group’s need for improved cognitive functioning, manufacturers have responded by designing products that healthfully stimulate brain activity.

For instance, in Canada, a niche manufacturer of functional beverages called MD Drinks has introduced its Brainiac variant in a Carambola Punch flavor. In a market overflowing with functional beverages, MD Drinks’ Function Brainiac stands out for its adoption of the dietary supplement “ginkgo biloba”—a leaf that can increase cognitive functioning, according to health studies. In fact, consumers seeking supplements to improve their mental clarity have long relied on ginkgo biloba. Now, with Function Brainiac, those hoping to develop their brain health can consume ginkgo biloba in a tastier and more pleasant format. Moreover, the ingredients housed in Function Brainiac combine to improve the mind’s memory, mental clarity and mood.

For a Healthy Heart

In the sea of global functional foods and beverages, products standing on a heart health platform are especially visible, with recent health studies educating more consumers about the causes of heart disease. Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) indicates that the functional cardiovascular claim grew in global food and drinks products by 44% from 2007 to 2008. Taking a cue from this, more companies are likely to introduce preventative heart health-based products in the future to help consumers combat their chances of falling victim to heart disease.

Heart Beet, an organic beetroot juice introduced by United Kingdom-based beverage maker James White, is a good example.Mostly known for its farm-pressed apple juices, the firm has expanded its lineup with the launch of a new organic beetroot juice that contains higher levels of nitrate, intended to lower blood pressure. The company’s Web site also quotes some health studies suggesting that nitrate can act as a “natural aspirin” in preventing blood clots and shielding the lining of blood vessels. Manufactured with organically grown crushed beetroots and apples, Heart Beet does not contain concentrates and preservatives.

Beauty Benefits

A mentionable number of food and beverage companies are manufacturing their brands with carefully chosen ingredients to treat and beautify the skin. Topical creams, moisturizers, and cleansers were once the traditional remedies that consumers turned to for their skin issues. However, now that several food and drink items have adopted the “beautify you” stance, more curious consumers look to foods and beverages to attain their beauty benefits in an edible form.

An interesting brand from the beauty food group comes from a US chocolate confectioner named Frutels, which has launched Acne Care Chocolate. This premium line of “all-natural” dark chocolate touts a formula that claims to deliver powerful antioxidants and micro-nutrients to enhance the clarity of skin from the inside out. Frutels asserts its chocolate guards the body against stress, calms hormonal changes, strengthens the body’s reaction to simple sugars, and improves the body’s immunity—factors that can all lead to acne breakouts. The manufacturer’s use of an indulgent treat to combat acne is unique and almost counterintuitive considering candy has long been thought to cause pimples.

From on-the-go offerings to extensive superfruit ingredient lists, foods and beverages promising functional benefits continually launch in more innovative formats. Pairing inherently healthy products with functional attributes is a strategic move for manufacturers aiming to capture demand from the health-conscious. This specialized product segment shows opportunity for expansion; the functionality trend can expect to broaden within the coming months by treating other untapped ailments that have yet to be addressed in a food or beverage offering.

Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) tracks new product launches, trends and innovations internationally. For more information, click here or call 1-312-932-0600.

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