Trend Watch: Functional, Immune-Boosting Formulations on the Rise

March 2022

While functional and immune-boosting products were a growing consumer trend pre-pandemic, COVID-19 led to market interest for these food and beverage claims jumping exponentially, with the functional foods and beverages market growing 9.4% over the past year1. At the forefront of this health-kick trend are natural ingredients, such as fruit and vegetables. At Chaucer Foods, we have delivered and innovated with these functional and immune-boosting ingredients for almost 40 years.

Consumers want ingredients that are not only tasty, but also provide key micronutrients that many people are lacking. Food and beverages offer functionality and immunity not only appeal to a health-conscious consumer, but reach an expanding audience of individuals looking for an easy alternative to consume nutrients.

Check out three notable growth areas currently ramping up momentum as a result of the consumer interest in functional and immune-boosting food and beverage products:

Innovative Alternatives:

Plant-based alternatives offer a simple, functional daily swap for consumers looking for extra immunity options that provide added nutrition to a traditional recipe. A report from the International Food Information Council2 found that 65% of people said that they’ve eaten plant-based alternatives in the 2021, highlighting the overall consumer interest in plant-based alternatives. Incorporating freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, which retain all original nutrients, within formulations adds many vitamins and minerals that consumers are on the hunt for.

A Focus on Benefits:
Functional ingredients provide balance for consumers looking to make small, easily accomplished changes within their diet. According to Kerry Research3, 71% of consumers consider functional foods and beverages to improve their overall health, while 54% are trying to improve their immune systems. Additionally, 42% of consumers purchased functional products during the pandemic3, noting COVID’s impact on the industry. When looking at product labels, consumers now commonly check out what benefits they are getting out of consuming a product.
Convenient, but Healthy:
One of the most notable parts of the growth in functionality and immunity is the need for convenience. Consumers want a ready-to-consume product that quickly and conveniently delivers essential nutrients. New Hope1 research found that 10% of “department innovators,” registered at 2020 trade shows indicated an intention to innovate around “nutrition meets convenience,” a clear sign where the food and beverage industry is headed. Following that, the ready-to-drink beverages market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.1% by 20264, meanwhile the North American market is expected to grow as consumers shift towards healthier solutions.
No matter whether the consumer is looking for a plant-based alternative, to achieve nutrient goals, or to receive convenient nourishment, products innovated to be functional and immune-boosting are on the rise. Freeze-dried fruit is 100% natural and contain no added sugar. Unlike ingredients dried using other methods, freeze-dried ingredients retain their original nutrients, color, shape and flavor – attributes that are increasingly important to today’s clean label and health-focused consumer. Freeze-dried ingredient pieces and powders quickly infuse in hot or cold liquid, and are ideal for adding natural color and flavor to immune-enhancement beverages.
Want to learn more about food and beverage offerings that have been innovated with functionality and immunity in mind? Check out our functional recipe inspirations to learn how to innovate with ingredients that provide an immune boost.

1 “Functional beverage sales rise, but not all ingredients, benefits gain equally as consumer interest shifts,” Food Navigator-USA. June 2021.
2 “IFIC Survey: Consumption Trends, Preferred Names and Perceptions of Plant-Based Meat Alternatives,” Food Insight. November 2021.
3 “40% of consumers purchased functional products during pandemic,” Food & Beverage Insider. June 2021.
4 “Consumer Demand for Plant-Based Food Alternatives Driving Market Growth,” FN Media Group. June 2021.

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