The future of functionals

"Predicting the future is easy. It's trying to figure out what is going on now that is hard."

Though author Fritz RS Dressler penned this quote more than two decades ago, it couldn't be truer today. As we write this on the first of December, Black Friday (the first day of US holiday sales) has just passed with a better outcome than anyone expected — a 2.2 per cent rise in sales over the previous year. Given the alternative, 2.2 per cent sounds pretty good. So it is with this number in mind that we present to you the January 2009 trends issue of Functional Ingredients magazine.

The editorial staff researched, our advisory board advised and some of you tossed in your 2.2 cents to foretell the future of the functional-ingredients marketplace. No matter where we looked, there were two overriding consumer themes — trading down, but not out, and trust. Consumers aren't willing to give up on their established or newly adopted health regimen whether it is diet, supplements or exercise, though they may trade down for private-label products. Why? Health-care costs are at a premium and health-minded shoppers understand the value of self care in these precarious times.

Uncertainty may lead some in the ingredients industry to take short cuts, but in all honesty this tactic won't return much yield. GMPs for medium-sized companies are looming. The FDA is watching. And, more importantly, given the past year, consumers are less tolerant of adulteration and formulation misdeeds. As we have seen with Chinese melamine, one bad apple can taint the reputation of an entire industry sector. We predict that despite the odds, the opportunities will lie with ethical, trustworthy brands and ingredients. Byron Johnson, the new head of the IADSA, couldn't agree more — trust and honesty are imperative to the health of the industry and your company (see our interview with Johnson here).

At Fi and at New Hope Natural Media's family of products, we understand the value of companies that follow an ethical mantra, often at the expense of less-shining examples. We also know that it is hard to predict what the coming year will bring in regard to growth and financial security. Above all, know that our goal is to help your company succeed in these trying times. Throughout the year, our editorial and sales teams will draw from all of our available brain power and resources to assist your company in reaching continued success in the coming year.

Happy New Year from the Fi editorial staff,

Kimberly Lord Stewart, Editorial Director

Todd Runestad, Science Editor

James Townsend, Managing Editor

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