“They are tired of taking 25 pills a day and want to get their nutrition in other ways,” Jeff Hilton, partner and chief marketing officer at US-based brand promotional company Brandhive, said at Vitafoods Europe in Geneva last month.
Pills were becoming less of a desirable solution to health problems, as consumer habits changed. In the past decade, consumers had moved from taking pills containing supplements, such as omega-3, vitamins and minerals, to foods that gave them the benefits, said Hilton. “They want easier access to functional foods, they want value for their money and they want to know that it’s going to do them some good.”
Although there was demand for functional foods, businesses were warned to seriously assess the market before producing a new product, as 80% of new functional products failed, he warned.
Chewing gums, shakes and shots were all trends appearing in the functional food arena and were winning consumer interest and trust. “Single-usage products are areas of growing interest and use among consumers looking for functional foods,” he added.
Adding “functionality” to an existing product was, however, discouraged, unless consumers were educated on why it was added and what health benefits it was said to provide them.
Educating consumers about health-giving foods in general was something businesses should consider, he added. Online and social media activity should be used to show consumers what products did and how they worked.
Meanwhile, Hilton urged functional food and drinks businesses to reconsider ‘superfruits’, hype about which he said had died down over the years. “There’s a whole line of them [superfruits] waiting to come from the Americas,” he said.
“Consumers love exciting new superfruit stories because they are comfortable with them and that's why there's been a strong trend [in the past].”
Listen to our exclusive podcast with Hilton to find out why he said US manufacturers were better at responding to functional foods demand than those in the UK.