Rising chronic diseases and changing lifestyles have led to health scare. This has resulted in consumers searching for foods that raise their immunity levels. Moreover, food additives and emulsifiers have rendered many food products bland. This has caused clients to look for their daily dose of vitamins and nutrients in places, excluding local supermarkets.
An upsurge in the aforementioned circumstances has led the functional food market to carve a niche for itself. The market provides maximum food at minimum price. Functional foods, also called nutraceutical foods, provide benefits beyond the capability of normal foods. This term was coined in Japan and each country markets these foods according to their convenience.
The functional food market consists of energy drinks, dietary complements, breakfast cereals, food supplements and weight management and mood-enhancement products. It is estimated to reach about USD 3 billion by 2020. The major driving factor of the market is augmented chronic diseases, like diabetes, rickets, obesity and high blood pressure.
Functional foods have multiple benefits. This, coupled with their cheap price and abundant availability has convinced consumers to opt out of normally available groceries and stick to functional foods. Functional foods are a feasible option for battling nutritional deficiencies and satisfying the demands of consumers. The functional food market is divided into two segments. These include foods and regions.
The market provides foods according to the health benefits to different parts of the body. Some of these body parts are gut, bones and immunity and nutrition pertinent organs. Functional foods offer proteins, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, hydrocolloid, fatty acids, carotenoids, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, essential oils, etc. They provide nutrition for effective metabolism and normal functioning of the body.
Dietary food supplements are in maximum demand from consumers. They capture lion’s share in the functional food market and are followed by mood-enhancement products. Other products show great potential in bettering digestion and heart functioning. Weight management foods also promise decent growth due to rising obesity incidences in the world.
The functional food market is also sliced on the basis of regions into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific (APAC), Latin America and Rest of the World (RoW). North America remains the largest buyer in the world. The United States of America is the largest consumer of this region, accounting for more than 75% of its consumption. Enhanced demand for functional foods in North America contributes a major portion in the worldwide income.
Japan has an already existing functional food market. The developing economies of China, Australia and India in the APAC region are estimated to hold great potential for growth in 2020. The minimal presence of functional foods in Europe owes to strict health regulations in the region. The region demands scientific evidence to back up any health claims made by functional food products.
Inability of these products in doing the same restricts the flow of the European functional food market. However, Italy and France in Europe; and Brazil in Latin America display bright futures. Countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of the RoW region have showed growing interest in the functional food market.
This is owing to multiple health concerns, boosting chronic illnesses and escalating novel food products in the region. Saudi Arabia has the biggest market size and is followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
The primary players investing in the functional food market include Standard Functional Foods Group Inc., Danone, Heinz, Kellogg’s, Capmul, Claria, Arcon S, Grindsted, Lacprodan, Prolia, Pureco, Quali, ViaTech, NovaLipid, and Novasoy. They have actively participated in the market, advertised its foods and driven its sales.
Research Support Specialist, USA