Mintel: Functional foods 'on life support'

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NEW ORLEANS — Functional foods are not necessarily dead or alive but may be more accurately described as “being on life support,” Mintel analyst David Jago said at the Institute of Food Technologist meeting on June 14.

Mr. Jago and colleague Lynn Dornblaser said the value of the U.S. functional foods market is at $15.4 billion, which represents 30% value growth from 2004-09. But Mr. Jago said along with the recession, growth in functional foods slowed, consumers were less likely to experiment with these products due to the cost, and consumers bought fewer high-priced products less frequently.

Overall, the Mintel analysts said consumers don’t really believe functional products are either effective or ineffective, and only one in five consumers see a benefit from the products. In addition, 68% of U.S. consumers believe functional beverages should be tested by the F.D.A. to make sure they actually do what they claim.

Ms. Dornblaser said in the future there will be more activity in the functional foods market with relaxation and beauty from within products as well as products for senior citizens. She said it’s best to keep communication clear, and the best-selling functional products are successful due to a combination with other aspects such as taste, convenience, familiarity and everyday application and not necessarily the functional claim and benefit alone.

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