As the pandemic continues, consumers are seeking ways to feel healthier and more resilient in this uncertain world. One of the ways that they are doing that is through functional foods and beverages.
Shelley Balanko, senior vice president at the Hartman Group, will be speaking at Specialty Food Live!, SFA’s upcoming virtual event, about functionality and food culture trends in the era of COVID-19.
Her session, which takes place on Wednesday, September 23, at 12 p.m. EST, will highlight consumer data and insights into functional food and beverages and opportunities for specialty food makers.
SFA News Daily spoke with Balanko about the trends she’s seeing in the functional space and how they may continue post-pandemic.
Why do you think consumers seek out functional foods?
Consumers seek functional foods for several reasons. The top three are: general insurance (just feel I should), targeted health benefits (e.g., improved digestion), and a desire to prevent illness/injury.
What are the newest trends or innovations in the functional food space?
We’re seeing some emerging needs take priority such as cognitive health and hormonal health, especially the link between hormones and gut health and hormones and mental health.
What do you hope attendees take away from your session?
I hope attendees understand the large opportunity that exists with functional foods and beverages, and that taste is still king. Consumers increasingly want functionality, but they won’t sacrifice great taste or naturalness.
How can makers take advantage of consumers’ desire for functional ingredients and foods?
An easy way to capitalize on consumer demand for functional foods is to provide functional benefits in routinely consumed foods. For example, the top categories where consumers seek functionality are: yogurt, granola/energy bars, cereals, grains, bread. Basically, make everyday eating healthier.
What trends do you think will continue post-pandemic?
The importance of immunity and eating for improved immunity will continue. As consumers embrace personal empowerment and the need for physical and mental resilience, they will continue to make food choices that will support healthy immune functioning such as seeking vitamin C, citrus, green tea, garlic, turmeric and ginger, adaptogens, medicinal mushrooms, and resistant starches.