September 2021 | Expert insights for growing your business.

Meeting Consumer Needs for Functional Foods & Beverages

A recent FlavorSum survey showed most North American consumers are interested in functional foods & beverages – products with ingredients that can positively affect health beyond basic nutrition.

And food & beverage manufacturers are responding with innovation. In the last 2 decades, the number of North American product launches featuring functional claims increased from less than 10 percent to more than 22 percent last year. The current global market for functional foods, at roughly $280 billion, is about 5% of total food & beverage sales but is expected to double in size over the next 7 years.

This month’s FlavorSum Insights reviews current innovation trends in functional foods and identifies opportunities to align with consumer expectations.

Market Spotlight: Functional Foods & Beverages

Functionality is prevalent across the North American food & beverage landscape. Mintel’s Global New Products Database shows more than 85 percent of tracked categories had at least 1 launch with a functional claim in 2020.

Categories with the most functional claim activity include grain-based products, beverages, dairy, and vegetables.

And the claims occurring most often across categories highlight both the absence of negatives like allergens, gluten, and dairy and the presence of positives like protein, fiber, and energy.


Consumers in Focus: Benefits Sought from Foods & Beverages

Our survey results show consumers associate benefits with baseline health, health enhancement, remedies, and ‘free-from’ solutions. Not surprisingly, functionality that addresses baseline health, led by immunity, brain, heart, and digestive support, is a high priority for most consumers. Help with inflammation rounds out the top 5 benefits consumers are seeking.


Awareness of ingredients that deliver specific benefits is low for most consumers. Fiber, protein, and caffeine are the most well-known, with about 50 percent of consumers feeling confident that they know the purpose of those ingredients in foods or beverages.

Those who have some level of knowledge about the ingredients evaluated in our survey named the following as possible additions that could deliver desirable benefits. These insights provide a blueprint for linking product characteristics with ingredients that consumers readily associate with solutions.



In addition to considering ingredients that consumers recognize, manufacturers have an opportunity to increase satisfaction with functional foods & beverages.

Only one-third (or less) of consumers say they’re ‘extremely’ satisfied with the performance of products they buy.

  • When we asked why they are disappointed with functional products, consumers’ dissatisfaction centers on lack of results and higher-than-expected prices.
  • And consumers are often skeptical about the claims and ingredients associated with functional foods.

Explaining how ingredients deliver benefits and clearly labeling packages with the product’s purpose can improve consumer understanding and acceptance.

Flavors that Fit with Functional Benefits

When we asked consumers to name the flavors they’d like to see in functional foods & beverages, they expressed interest in various profiles but offered the following specific suggestions:

  • For products with immunity claims, citrus, melon, and tropical flavors have appeal.
  • Brain health claims link with tropical and berry flavors.
  • For heart and digestive health claims, a range of fruit or botanical flavors make sense to consumers.
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits link with spice flavors.

Watch our Blueprints for Success Webinar!

You’ll discover additional insights to help build benefits into foods & beverages.

And contact the FlavorSum team for the solutions, expertise, and responsiveness you need to accelerate your success.

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FlavorSum News

Celebrating our Growing Team

FlavorSum continues to build support for your product development needs.  From consultative sales and marketing professionals to flavor scientists and skilled production staff, you’ll find a team committed to doing what’s right for your brand.  We’re extending a warm welcome to our newest team members:

Andrew M. – Sales

Mary S. – Sales

Chloe M – Marketing

Fei H – R&D



In the October issue of FlavorSum Insights:

What’s Popping Up in Non-Alcoholic Beverage Innovation?
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