- Interest in functional nutrition is growing globally as consumers seek to boost health.
- The latest trends cover the top functional ingredients and health benefits.
- Several opportunities are emerging in claims and formats.
2023 functional nutritional trends reveal what consumers want from functional products and why. They also point to key opportunities, including functional snacks, sleep support products, and more.
Functional nutrition describes food and beverage products that contain bioactive ingredients to support a specific health or wellness goal. These products range in format from bars to beverages and typically feature benefit claims that go beyond what basic nutrition can provide.
Innova reports that consumer interest in functional nutrition is rising across the globe.1 When Innova asked consumers about healthy eating, more said their main approach is “to choose products that positively boost my nutrition or benefit how my body functions” compared to the prior year (+4 ppt in Canada and Brazil, +5 ppt in the US and China, and +10 ppt in Spain and Mexico.2
While functional nutrition can address a variety of consumers’ needs—from exercise recovery to mental focus—the top reason consumers are reaching for functional nutrition products is to boost health. In the past 12 months, 29.3% of consumers globally have chosen foods and beverages with a health-boosting ingredient to improve their physical health, and 24.9% say it’s for a specific health condition.3
Innova reports generational differences in the use of functional nutrition, with younger consumers driving the trend.4 For consumers aged 18-34, choosing products that boost nutrition or benefit how the body functions is the key approach to healthy eating for nearly one in three.5 Only one in five say limiting bad-for-you products and ingredients is their main approach, while it’s the top approach for those 55 and over.6
The most commonly consumed functional ingredients include caffeine (55%), electrolytes (30%), and antioxidants (28%).7 These are fairly mainstream and can be found in many everyday foods and beverages, as well as in functional products. Ingredients newer to the functional food and beverage industry such as prebiotics (15%), melatonin (11%), and adaptogens (7%)8 are likely to have more niche audiences looking for those health benefits.
|Functional Ingredient in a Food or Beverage||% of Consumers Currently Consuming|
Immunity and gut health lead as the most important functions in a food or beverage for consumers globally.9 In recent months, 34% have purchased foods or beverages to boost immunity, while 27% have chosen products to improve their gut health.10 Based on recent product consumption, other sought-after benefits include heart health (20%), sleep support (15%), and brain health (10%).11
Recent data points to some key opportunities for brands in functional nutrition. When comparing function desirability with current consumption, heart health and sleep support stand out as having the highest growth potential, notes Innova.12 Focusing on well-known functional ingredients, effective messaging, and convenient formats (like beverages and snacks) can help grow these segments.
|Functional Benefit in a Food or Beverage||% of Consumers Citing as a Desirable Benefit||% of Consumers Currently Consuming||Opportunity Gap|
|Improving heart health||26%||20%||6%|
Product format is another opportunity area. While beverages continue to be the favorite format for functional nutrition products (with 79% of consumers interested in this format), 68% of consumers are interested in functional snacks.13 31% would like to see functional ingredients in salty snacks such as chips and pretzels, while 30% cite baked goods.14 The interest is also there for functional desserts and prepared meals.15
Besides functional ingredients, brands can consider increasing health appeal through added protein. About one in four Gen Z consumers and one in three Millennial, Gen X, and Boomer consumers say a protein claim influences their purchase decision of sports and functional nutrition products.16 Claims about the functional ingredients are influential to nearly one in four overall.17
As a global leader in functional nutrition, Glanbia Nutritionals provides market insights, product development expertise, and health and wellness ingredients that support our customers’ success. Our bioactive ingredients take the guesswork out of formulating foods and beverages for heart health, sleep support, immunity, and more, while our protein solutions help deliver the dairy and plant-based nutrition that today’s consumers are looking for.
Contact us to learn more.
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