Functional foods and their ingredients gain consumer acceptance

An attendee at our September 28 webinar on anti-inflammatory nutrients asked (paraphrase), “Based on the nutrients you’ve presented, what functional foods are available to consumers interesting in fighting inflammation?” And while dietary supplements and pharmaceutical interventions are prevalent, foods and beverages fortified with nutrients that fight inflammation aren’t as common …. Yet! But that time may be coming.

We were reminded of a paper – “Consumer Acceptance of Functional Foods and Their Ingredients” — delivered a couple months ago at a symposium in Germany hosted by the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association. It used glucosamine as an illustration of many points including consumers under medical care for conditions like arthritis were less aware of non-medical aids and functional ingredients than consumers with those same conditions who were not under physician care.

Several assumptions can be made based on that scenario. For example, the second group seemed to be self-educated. And, perhaps, physicians weren’t as educated about functional ingredients as they could be. The dynamic that results is when consumers want information about functional foods and nutrients that improve health, they often go after it on their own.

For manufacturers of fortified foods and beverages, innovation and growth in functional foods may be tied to raising awareness among consumers – and influencers of those consumers, like physicians and advocacy groups. Science documents how nutrients address numerous health conditions (we covered many of them, including glucosamine, in our recent webinar and in our current tech paper), greater consumer awareness has the potential to fuel demand for functional foods and beverages.