Consumer distrust growing in functional food market

by Staff
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LONDON — While consumers are seeking out food and beverage products with health benefits, consumers in the United States, Western Europe and Asia-Pacific are becoming increasingly skeptical and distrustful of health claims by food and drink manufacturers, according to Datamonitor.

"Current market conditions suggest the functional food market will continue to witness impressive growth rates," said Michael Hughes, consumer market analyst and author of the new study from Datamonitor. "After all, changing social demographics and greater emphasis on maintaining health is driving the demand for foods rich in nutrients and minerals."

Yet because levels of consumer trust and confidence are declining, Mr. Hughes said it is essential manufacturers promote functional foods credibly and honestly and continue to educate consumers about emerging ingredients such as lycopene, prebiotic fiber and plant sterols.

Many consumers also are turning to natural diets for health and wellness benefits as there is increased distrust with artificial ingredients in foods and beverages.

The functional food and beverage market in the United States, Western Europe and Asia-Pacific is worth $72.3 billion and the forecasted compounded annual growth rate is 5.7% between 2007 and 2012, according to Datamonitor. The Asia-Pacific market also is forecasted to outperform the U.S. and European market in the foreseeable future.

Aging consumers contribute to the market though purchasing products that help fight disease and maintain physical and emotional vitality. Younger consumers are buying products that provide an energy boost in order to optimize performance.

"Often, functional product consumption has been associated with aging populations aiming to minimize the risk of serious illness," Mr. Hughes said. "However, lifestyle changes are leading to younger consumers purchasing functional foods with greater regularity in order to combat day-to-day health issues such as sleep deprivation, skin blemishes and even nail deficiencies."

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