A Glimpse of American Functional Food Market and Its Future Development Direction
In general, clean labels still dominate food trends in the U.S. market, but there is a high level of interest in functional products that deliver special benefits.
Corna, California-based Monster Beverage Company is trying to incorporate its energy-based products into carbonated soft drinks and bottled water.
In June, Monster announced the launch of two brand new brands: Mutant and Hydro. Mutan will be a carbonated drink with added caffeine that seeks to compete with PepsiCo's Mtn Dew brand. Hydro is a non-carbonated bottled water energy drink.
A 20-ounce bottle of Mutant contains 115 mg of caffeine, which is slightly higher than other products in this category. Each 500 ml can of Hydro contains 120 mg of caffeine.
Mainstreaming functional products will also appear in the sports nutrition category. These products were originally designed for athletes and sports lovers, but now they are accepted by more and more people.
CynoSport, a sales unit of the Hormel Food Group, is producing and selling its "Muscle Milk" brand. This product is originally formulated to help athletes recover and rebuild their muscles.
In July, CytoSport launched a new ready-to-drink drink, Muscle Milk Cafe, which mixes protein and caffeine in three flavors: vanilla latte, coffee latte and matcha latte. The product is a 4-bottle combination of 11 ounces, containing 20 grams of protein, 120 milligrams of caffeine, gluten-free and sugar-free.
Greg N. Longstreet, President and CEO of CytoSport, said, "This new product reflects our commitment to bringing protein solutions to consumers. Coffee house products are adapted to a variety of lifestyles and taste great, allowing people to get protein supplements at any time of the day."
Functional foods containing probiotics
From July 16 to 19, the annual meeting of the Food Science and Technology Society and the Food Expo were held in Chicago, USA. At the meeting, probiotic manufacturers Ganeden analyzed the diversity of products featuring probiotics and the effects they can bring to people's digestive tract health.
Mike Bush, president of Ganeden, said, "Because GanedenBC30 strain is extremely viable, it can survive most of the processing steps, shelf life and gastrointestinal transit. We can add this strain to any product, and the business opportunities are endless and the company benefits from it."
Products featuring digestive-health ingredients include Nutrisystem meal-replacement shakes, snack maker Lesser Evilde's cookie line, and Brio's ice cream line.
Weight loss/weight management functional requirements ranked first
In May this year, the International Food Information Council Foundation conducted the 2016 Food and Health Survey ". One of the research focuses on food ingredients, especially those that are of most interest to consumers who are particularly concerned about the health effects of food. Top of the list is weight loss/weight management, followed by energy and cardiovascular health.
Interestingly, the focus of some large corporate brands is no longer just focused on weight management. Kellogg, for example, repositioned its Special K brand from weight management to "internal human strength".
Deanie Elsner, president of Kellogg's U.S. Snacks Division, said at the quarterly financial meeting, "We discussed how weight management trends have negatively impacted Special K products and the main reasons that have led to the decline in our sales in recent years. Through careful consideration of cereal products, we have greatly reconstructed the Special K snack series, re-established the relationship with consumers, and let consumers reconsider buying our products."
Over the years, we have done a lot of work. We have updated some products of SKUS (stock keeping unit) under the Special K brand and introduced popular foods, such as Chewy Nut Bars Nourish the Special K brand.
We are also looking for positive consumer feedback. Nourish nutrition bars increased sales of the Special K nutrition bar series by 80%. On top of that, Nourish nutrition bar sales grew at three times the rate of other Special K nutrition bars in the second quarter. So, once we find the right food, our brand can move forward.
Kellogg isn't the only company to shift its focus away from weight management. In July 2015, Nestlé of the United States "restarted" the "Lean Cuisine" series of products, shifting the focus of the products from dieting to more delicious dishes with ethnic characteristics, bringing consumers more choices.
The future of functional foods is more concerned about: memory and eye health
According to Canadean analysis, the future health issues that consumers are most concerned about today are memory loss and eye health, which makes food manufacturers face more competition in the field of nutrition and health.
A report released by the Canadean in July this year entitled "Trends in Health Care and O.T.C.: Exploring Over-the-Counter Drugs; Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements; Functional Foods and Beverages; Sports Nutrition" found that more than 1/3 of consumers worldwide are concerned about their future memory loss, and 27% of consumers are worried about vision loss. Consumers are also concerned about diabetes and cholesterol. This is a very good business opportunity for food manufacturers to add ingredients that promote memory function and promote eye health to food, beverages, and supplements.
"In addition to focusing on current health needs, consumers will increasingly look to the future and seek products that can reduce potential health risks." Melanie Felgate, chief consumer insight analyst at Canadean, said, "Memory loss and eye health are the two most important issues for consumers. Manufacturers in the field of functional nutrients and health care can focus on innovation in this area."
"Low-cholesterol products are common today, but are there any products on the market that can improve cognitive memory? One example is the Coffee Blenders Think Cup in the United States, a brand that has begun to work on this, adding ginseng to coffee packets. And ginseng has been clinically proven to improve memory."
Consumers prefer to choose food and beverages rather than pills
When it comes to health-enhancing supplements, consumers prefer food and beverages to pills. The survey found that only 18% of consumers think that tablets and capsules are more effective forms of intake, while the proportion of consumers who think that food and beverages are more effective forms of nutritional intake is 49% and 24% respectively, indicating that most consumers prefer to choose food and beverages.
"This preference for food and beverages, and the trust in the effectiveness of this form, is mainly due to people's growing weariness with traditional forms of nutritional supplementation and the belief that food and beverages have the same health benefits as over-the-counter drugs." Ms. Felgate said.
Increasing demand for personalized products
Manufacturers can also benefit from personalized products. Globally, 41% of consumers will like products customized according to their needs. This psychology is very obvious among consumers who are very concerned about their own health. For example, those who exercise regularly will take the initiative to promote their health through food and drink, hoping that brands in the health field can launch products in a more personalized way.
"Today, we need to link product innovation more closely with the individual needs of consumers. This demand of consumers is also increasing, and personalized nutrition has become a trend." "Manufacturers can personalize products based on the age, gender, lifestyle parameters, even blood type or DNA," Ms. Felgate said. "We 've seen some brands do this already, such as ManFlu, which is a product specifically designed for men's cold and flu. In the future, personalized products will become more and more customized to the needs of individual consumers."
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