Caramelos, chocolates y otros alimentosAgo. 18, 2011
Cantidad de consumidores permanece estable desde 2005
Although there is no universally accepted definition of functional foods, IFIC defines them as “foods or food components that may provide health or other benefits beyond basic nutrition.”
The IFIC definition is broad, encompassing both fortified foods/beverages and those that naturally contain nutrients that have been found to support various aspects of health, such as calcium and omega-3, as well as vitamins/ supplements.
IFIC, which describes its mission as communicating science-based information on food safety and nutrition to health and nutrition professionals, educators, journalists and others who provide information to consumers, is supported by the food, beverage and agricultural industries. It has conducted functional foods surveys among U.S. consumers since 1998, and began including consumption questions in 2005.
IFIC reports that its surveys confirm a significant increase in consumer awareness of functional foods over the research’s 13 years.
The 2011 survey found that 90% were able to name at least one functional food and its associated benefit, with the greatest awareness of those that relate to their top two health concerns: cardiovascular disease and weight maintenance. The number able to do so has ranged between 90% and 92% since 2005, versus 77% in 1998.
The top components with benefits mentioned in this year’s survey include calcium (92%) and Vitamin D (90%) for bone health; protein (87%) and B vitamins (86%) for overall well-being; omega-3 fatty acids (85%) for heart health, and probiotics (81%) and fiber (79%) for digestive health.
Asked (unaided) to name foods/food components that are thought to have health benefits beyond basic nutrition, consumers largely cite food groups rather than components. The top 10 cited are fruits/vegetables, fish/fish oil, dairy, herbs/spices, fiber, meat/poultry, tea/green tea, nuts, and vitamins/supplements.
Three-quarters (76%) agree that the added health benefits of functional foods “provide a compelling reason to consume them more often,” and 62% agree that “it would take little effort” to include more of these foods in their diets.
So why are Americans’ self-reported consumption rates of these foods not increasing?
Asked to rank issues that prevent them from consuming more functional foods/beverages, by distributing 100 points across 10 factors, expense was the most-cited barrier (pulling 16.1 points on average).
Taste was a close second, with 15.4 points, followed by availability/ convenience, with 10.8 points. Knowledge of foods and their desired health benefits, confusion over conflicting information, and insufficient confidence in the science all ranked in the 9-point range. The points for other factors were: lack of knowledge of how much to consume (8.6), uncertainty about how to prepare foods (8.2), lack of desire to try new foods (7.5) and time it takes to learn about these foods (6.1).
One obvious conclusion is that Americans need more education about the cost and flavor issues.
“Consuming foods for health benefits doesn’t have to be expensive,” notes IFIC associate director of health and wellness Elizabeth Rahavi. “Just taking simple steps such as choosing a whole grain cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt for breakfast each day can go a long way to improve health over time.”
“In order to get functional foods on the plate, we have to connect taste with health,” adds IFIC SVP, nutrition and food safety Marianne Smith Edge.
Medical professionals are clearly the most influential group when it comes to conveying the benefits of functional foods. Asked which source of information is the most believable, 38% cited medical professionals, with the Internet/media in distant second place at 15%. Friends/family/self, researchers/scientists and the FDA were each cited by 6%; product labels by 5%; and government/U.S. surgeon general by 3%.
However, asked to indicate all of the sources of information they actually use, 73% cited medical Internet sites, 65% cited medical professionals and 51% registered dietitians. A total of 66% cited the media, including non-medical Internet (43%), TV news (34%), magazines (30%), newspapers (18%), radio news (11%) and blogging/social networks (7%).
Nearly half said they get information from food labels (48%), health associations (48%) and friends/family (47%). A third (34%) cited fitness experts, 25% grocery stores, 17% product/company advertising, and 12% government officials. (Well, at least advertising beat government as a source.)
On the sales front, a new report from U.K.-based CompaniesandMarkets. com projects that the global market for “neutraceuticals” will reach about $151 billion this year (about a 10% share of the total global food industry), and $207 billion by 2016 (with a compound annual growth rate/CAGR of 6.5%).
While many define “neutraceuticals” separately (such as “products isolated or purified from foods and sold in medicinal formats not usually associated with foods”), this researcher clearly means neutraceuticals to include functional foods under this terminology (the report profiles Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cadbury, among others). In fact, CompaniesandMarkets itself notes that there is a “lack of clear categorization” in this arena.
The report projects that functional beverages will generate $57 million in global sales this year, and that CAGR of 8.8% will push those sales to nearly $87 billion by 2016. Global functional food sales are projected at $49 billion this year, and $67 billion by 2016 (6.4% CAGR).
Looking at just one sector of functional foods, a new Packaged Facts report on global trends in products containing/making omega-3 benefit claims estimates that foods/beverages (excluding fish), health/ beauty care products and pet products will generate $13 billion globally this year — with 71% of that coming from foods/beverages. The researcher puts global omega-3 food/beverage sales at $8 billion in 2010, a 17% increase over 2009.
In the U.S., 2010 sales of foods/beverages making “high omega-3” or “high DHA” claims reached nearly $4 billion (doubling since 2006). With CAGR expected to continue at 14.4%, sales are projected at $6.7 billion by 2015.