Functional food sales are flat in nearly every category; but when it comes to functional beverages, shoppers are saying, “I’ll take another.”
According to Nutrition Business Journal, functional beverage sales increased 10 percent in 2011. Snack foods, condiments and other categories in which added functionality can make shoppers skeptical (think WhoNu cookies claiming to offer as much vitamin C as a cup of blueberries). Functional beverages, however, are typically viewed more favorably, in that consumers believe they can—and will—deliver hydration plus added benefits, thanks to the success of products such as Gatorade and Red Bull.
Still, regardless of consumer acceptance, a bevy of Federal Trade Commission enforcement actions against functional food products—prime example: POM Wonderful—has made many manufacturers hesitant to develop new products bolstered by functionality claims, NBJ reports.
Therefore, rather than plastering new products with health promises such as supports immunity, companies are playing it safe by calling out inherently functional ingredients such as chia and oats. Many consumers already recognize these ingredients as healthy; and as more shoppers seek nutrition from whole foods, this approach promises to be a win-win for both the category and its followers.