New directions for key areas of the U.S. functional food & beverage market

New directions for key areas of the U.S. functional food & beverage market

What do the latest trends in functional foods and beverages targeting weight management and satiety, sports nutrition and energy have in common?  All three are benefitting from a shift to products made with more natural and whole food ingredients that are non-GMO and contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.  Protein is particularly important to all three, with meat playing a more important role than in the past in delivering this nutritional benefit.  According to the Packaged Facts report, Functional Foods & Beverages: Key Trends by Product Categories and Benefits, all three are also undergoing major shifts in the marketplace that reflect cultural and lifestyle changes including heartier breakfasts and more, healthier snacking.

Consumers have lost interest in dieting to lose weight and in 2015 they prefer healthy eating.  This has marketers of traditional weight loss brands (think Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers and Special K) figuring out how best to address this new, broader base of wellness consumers while not alienating existing, loyal customers.   

At quick glance, sports beverages appear to be navigating a minefield.  On one side, they are accused of being a soft drink in disguise, delivering excess sugar and contributing to obesity.  On the other side, they are likened to an energy drink, loaded with caffeine and the health risks associated with overconsumption, particularly by adolescents.  Fortunately, reformulated iconic sports drink brands and new entrants are giving sports drinks a new image by focusing on all natural ingredients, reduced sugar levels, and skipping the caffeine.  An even brighter spot in the sports nutrition market is that the long-standing athlete’s plea for an energy bar that isn’t so sweet has finally been satisfied with a whole new class of nutrition bars made with savory flavors and real, whole food ingredients in flavor names and combinations that sound more like a meal than a dessert.

Not only are youth-oriented energy beverages under scrutiny in relation to negative health effects and even deaths associated with caffeine consumption, but these short-lived jolts of energy don’t address what loads of Americans really want, which is steady, long-lasting energy to make it through the morning or an entire day.  Consumers are wising up to their energy needs and recognize they need more substantial help.  Lucky for them, marketers of higher protein breakfast foods and snacks have a growing array of options in store for them. 

This blog is based partially on research featured in Packaged Facts’Functional Foods & Beverages: Key Trends by Product Categories and Benefits.  Add this report to your own intelligence library and receive a 5% discount during our promotional period effective through July 31, 2015. Use code PFFF0417.

-      By Elaine Tecklenburg