Immune Boosting Food & Beverages AKA Functional Food
Why immune boosting products are so highly sought after right now
Over the last two years, the number of internet searches for immunity boosting products has increased exponentially, even making it onto the Google Trends report in 2020. In addition to this, use of the hashtag #immunebooster on Instagram increased by 46% between April and May 2020.
Online search behaviour like this has led consumers to discover a whole host of new and innovative ways to boost their immunity through means other than taking traditional vitamins and minerals.
Brands have also been quick on the uptake with many launching new functional products over the last twelve months. In this post we’ll outline what functional nutrition is, what trends we can expect to see in the category, and showcase some up and coming brands.
What is functional nutrition?
At the heart of functional nutrition is the biology of the human organ system whereby each organ works together to achieve optimal function.
Food is seen not only as the fuel needed to power our bodies, but as a way to tackle illness and disease on a path to overall functional health.
On a dietary level there is a focus on high-quality, organic, and all natural foods and beverages.
Natural immune boosting ingredients include citrus fruits, kiwi, broccoli, spinach, garlic, ginger, turmeric, green tea seeds, and nuts.
“More consumers are looking for products that offer functional benefits so ingredients like protein and fibre have had great success in bars and other snacks, but the opportunities for the next generation of botanicals and superfoods are just around the corner.”
Pam, Stauffer, Global Marketing Programs Manager for Cargill
What are the key trends in the functional category?
#1 Functional drinks
Kombucha is like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. But you can’t deny the health benefits it provides thanks to its antioxidants, probiotics, and vitamin-rich ingredients.
Whilst kombucha was the most popular functional drink of 2020/2021, we can expect to see a wider range of functional carbonated drinks hitting the shelves of supermarkets worldwide over the next 12-months.
Flavour profiles will include hibiscus, moringa and turmeric, thanks to their immune boosting properties, in addition to more classic fruit flavours to please the masses.
#2 Nutrients from the sea
Seaweed, sea moss, and other sea vegetables are forms of algae rich in hard-to-get nutrients like omega-3, iodine, tyrosine, dietary fibre, and prebiotics.
We can expect to see seaweed enriched or infused functional foods becoming more popular in 2022, particularly in the plant-based space thanks to the high levels of omega-3 which is hard for vegans to find without taking supplements.
#3 Collagen supplements
Although collagen supplements and powders have been around for a few years now, consumers are more educated in terms of the overall function health benefits collagen brings. Seeing it as much more than an anti-aging product.
Regularly incorporating collagen-enriched products into your diet can relieve joint pain, support bone and muscle health, promote a healthy heart, and aid general gut health.
Which brands are up and coming in the functional space?
In 2021, the global functional foods and beverage market was valued at $281.14 billion USD, which is a 8.6% increase from $258.8 billion USD in 2020.
Size of the worldwide functional food and beverage market from 2020 to 2021 with a forecast to 2028 (in billion U.S. dollars)
This presents a huge opportunity for new and existing brands to get a foot into the functional food and drink category. Here we’ll showcase three brands who are doing just that, and are a great inspiration for how others can be enriching their produce with functional ingredients and superfoods.
Hailing from the English coastal town of Grimsby, Seaweed Agogo is the manufacturer of functional popcorn, snacks and herb mixes that are enriched with seaweed.
They launched their first products made from certified organic seaweed in 2012 and they’ve been innovating ever since.
Along with their plant-powered protein snacks and flavoured popcorns, Seaweed Agogo’s most innovative product is its range of herbs. Available in four unique flavours – Original Kombu Seaweed, Italian, Asian and Mexican – these blends of herbs, spices and seaweed are a quick and easy way for consumers to add great taste and flavour to their meals, whilst adding health benefits to their bodies.
Good Source Foods
With a focus on healthy brain function, Good Source Foods offer a range of better-for-you snacks. Intended to boost brain function at different times of the day, the Chocolate Protein Clusters come in four flavours including:
Morning Jump is for energy and focus, and includes an array of functional ingredients – blueberries, almonds, green tea, ginger, pomegranate and 70% cocoa.
Whilst Afternoon Boost promotes metabolism and energy thanks to cinnamon, cayenne pepper, walnuts and chia seeds which are combined with apples and 70% cocoa.
By using such an array of superfoods and functional ingredients, Good Source Foods is not only helping cognitive function, but general functional health.
Off the back of the sugar tax being introduced in the UK, Harry Turpin set out on a mission to bring savoury snack bars to supermarket aisles that not only taste great, but are also functional. And so, The Savourists was born!
Made from a base of seeds and lentils, The Savourists snack bars are high in fibre, low in sugar, packed with plant protein, gluten free, and prebiotic.
Right now there are three delicious flavours, spicy chilli sriracha, classic smoky barbecue, and black olive and nori seaweed.
The Savourists have definitely tapped into a portion of the functional food market that lags behind a little when it comes to innovation, so we expect to see more options in this space over the next 12-months.
2022 will be the opportune time for functional food and beverage brands to maximise their reach overseas as more consumers are looking for easy, and healthy, ways to add functional and immune boosting ingredients into their diets.
This is where Bolst Global can help. Whether you’re a manufacturer of functional products, or a distributor or retailer looking to bring new products to your home market we may be your perfect partner.
Our team specialises in the Health and Wellness space and has done deals and made introductions all over the world. Want to know how we can help you? Get in touch with us today.