Published by the international not-for-profit Institute of Food Technologists, the cover story of this month’s Food Technology highlights the nation’s top 10 trends involving functional foods, currently a $36 billion-a-year market and growing. Those trends are:
1. Kids At Risk – Children are increasingly at risk for being overweight, and for having high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Reformulating children’s products to be more nutrient dense while lower in fat, calories, sugar and sodium will be a focus.
2. 100 Calorie Cut-off – Weight-conscious shoppers are choosing lower-calorie and reduced portion sizes more than they’re selecting reduced-fat and low-carb products. Chefs predict portion size will be the next big restaurant trend.
3. Phytochemicals – Sales of products carrying an antioxidant claim jumped nearly 20 percent last year. One of every four consumers says they eat fruits or vegetables to prevent disease, one-in-three eat them to feel healthy, nearly nine-of-ten to stay healthy.
4. Multiple Benefits – Two-thirds of consumers have used foods to help prevent obesity, slightly more than those seeking to prevent high cholesterol, or prevent heart disease.
5. Healthy Fats – The popularity of omega-3 fatty acids are leading consumers to opt for healthier oils and avoid other fats. Low in saturated fat is the most appealing fat-directed label claim. Half of all shoppers try to avoid trans fats.
6. Mature – With more than 100 million Americans over 50 years old by 2010 food products will likely cater to their health concerns and dietary preferences. Currently, more than half of all consumers who fill a prescription also purchase related food products while shopping, e.g. buy low-fat milk while filling a heart prescription.
7. Glycemic, Gluten, Grains – At least one major trend analysis predicts low glycemic index foods will be a leading trend this year, despite the lack of scientific consensus on the topic. The gluten-free market is now increasing its presence on restaurant menus. Multifaceted health benefits of whole grains are gaining recognition.
8. Natural – Organic sales could climb to more than $14 billion this year but household penetration is not predicted to significantly increase.
9. Performance – Two of every three Americans are very concerned about their energy levels. Needing extra energy is noted as the top reason why adults eat functional foods.
10. Fun – Healthier versions of our favorites are popping up everywhere. Alcoholic beverages made with 100 percent fruit juice, soft drinks claiming to burn calories, even vending machines color-coding snacks and beverages to make healthy selections easier.