16 December 2015
With obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more life-threatening conditions on the rise, and medical costs increasing, the movement to improve health and prevent disease by eating right has spurred a host of food-related remedies. Trawl the grocery store aisle, and there’s a proliferation of products for cleansing, improving digestion and overall well-being -otherwise known as functional foods.

Among these, probiotics are slated to grow to nearly $30 billion worldwide within the next three years, according to Global Industry Analysts, Inc. Featuring friendly bacteria that aid digestion, immunity and more, these products include dairy and baked goods as well as chocolate and some processed meats. In fact, within the past 10 years, retailers and distributors welcomed more than 500 probiotic-linked foods, notes a recent report by Research and Markets. And the probiotic market should swell by nearly 7 percent a year through 2018, according to the same report. For a related story, visit Sambazon’s Cleanse Drinks Combine Health, Flavor and Environmentalism.

In another twist on health-oriented foods, some food makers have been offering calorie-specific packages and portions with smaller amounts of salt, sugar and fat. Consumers have responded: Generation X individuals now cite portion control as a key part of eating healthy, according to NPD Group. And earlier this fall, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated the elimination of trans fats, which will undoubtedly contribute to growth in this category.

For years, fiber-rich foods have attracted consumers for their perceived health benefits. The U.S. market was slated to grow to $470 million in 2011, according to Frost and Sullivan, as reported by Nutraingredients-USA. This is substantial growth from 2004, when the market was valued at almost $193 million, according to the same sources.

So how can food and beverage manufacturers participate? Tetra Pak’s Vice President for Marketing & Product Management, Suley Muratoglu offers these suggestions:
  • Market the health properties of regular foods, keeping an eye on the science. For example, cranberry juice has long been a go-to staple for chronic sufferers of urinary tract infections. In research published in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology in June, conventional wisdom got a scientific boost with a study showing that cranberry juice acts to retard the spread of infections, which can shorten their duration.
  • Strive for a healthy balance of the less-good-for-you ingredients in product formulation. Nutritional label reading is on the rise with certain market segments paying close attention. Consider segmenting products with a healthier version that have lower sodium, less sugar or no gluten.
  • Consider adding one of the popular nutra-foods to your product formulation and market it. Ginseng, palmetto extracts, ginkgo and ginkgo biloba have well-known properties, and additional fiber or protein also can improve a product’s nutritional bottom line. Tetra Pak’s customers seeking to develop new aseptic product formulations have access to the R&D facilities at its Pilot Plant in Denton, Texas.
  • When considering whether to approach the supplement or pharma-food sectors, understand the research and development costs and barriers to entry can be considerable. Partnerships between food and drug companies offer opportunities to maximize the upsides and minimize the downsides for each. Food companies bring experience with formulation, packaging, marketing and distribution while pharmaceutical companies have mastered the maze of meeting health claims and other regulations. Companies can cut costs and time-to-market by not trying to reinvent the wheel.
Get the full background on the pharma foods trend from Nutraceuticals World.

Image Credit: By Sigurdas (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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