Functional Food and Growing Importance of Labelling

July 2020

Consumers increasingly demand functionality from their food. The concept of food as medicine is also gaining ground not only in light of coronavirus, but also as a tool to manage chronic disease. With such growing interest comes a greater role for regulation, and front-of-pack nutrition labels are increasingly moving into the spotlight. This report provides an overview of recent trends nd innovations within functional food.

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Key Findings

Food as medicine gains momentum in light of COVID-19

Since the initial impact of COVID-19 the concept of wellness is being redefined and preventative health has become top of mind for consumers. Gut health has seen an additional boost due to its relation to immunity health. Products positioned to support immunity or containing ingredients such as probiotics known to help the immune system are expected to thrive in the future.

Healthy food as a tool to manage chronic disease

The role of food to treat chronic disease such as diabetes is a concept that increasingly takes shape and attracts the interest of food manufacturers, retailers and even insurers.

Promising outlook for products with functional claims that address consumers’ need states

Consumers seek products that pick them up throughout the day and provide energy, allow them to focus or help them to go to sleep. This offers opportunities for manufacturers to cater to new consumption occasions, as it is often consumer beliefs that drive the success of products with functional claims.

Mood food expected to spark further interest in light of COVID-19 crisis

The rise of mental wellbeing awareness opens opportunities for new products often called mood food. This has the potential to further boost the interest in CBD-infused products, an emerging trend that develops quickly despite regulatory hurdles.

Focus of protein shifts from a quantitative to a qualitative perspective

Despite the fact that protein continues to be over-consumed in developed countries, it remains a key functional nutrient. The call for sustainability drives product innovation with interesting developments, for example in the plant-based space. These have the potential to disrupt traditional protein sources.

Front-of-pack nutrition labelling in the spotlight of regulatory environment

Front-of-pack nutrition labels continue to gain ground. There are regional differences in the approach of informing versus warning consumers. These developments urge food manufacturers to re-evaluate product formulations.


Fortified/functional snacking products show fastest growth
Outline of strategic theme: functional food and the regulatory environment
Key findings

Food as Medicine

Mental wellbeing and getting enough sleep shape health perception
Mental and emotional wellbeing now outweigh weight management
Nutrients from food compete with nutrients from supplements
Mind your gut: the rise of gut health
Health claims on the basis of ingredients restricted in EU

Food as medicine

Shift to immunity support expected in light of COVID-19
Addressing consumer segments with special nutrition needs
Nutritional enrichment differs between developed and emerging markets
Growing interest in target groups of pregnant and ageing consumers
Frozen food maker Luvo leads by example in fight against chronic disease
Vital Cuisine addresses nutrition needs of cancer patients

Food with Functional Claims

Stress and anxiety, mental health and memory issues are key concerns
Functional food allows consumers to address certain need states
Edible coffee: the possible emergence of a new category
Stress affects sleeping patterns
Sleep-friendly products push into night-time snacking occasions
Interest in mood food rises with stress and mental health issues
CBD food: a fast-growing market despite regulatory hurdles
Products positioned to improve cognitive function have growth potential
Nootropics: an emerging trend with growth pockets in snacks
Edible beauty increasingly sparks interest
Different consumer motivations drive in-between snacking
Occasion-based snacks to support need states throughout the day
Consumer beliefs drive success of functional claims: price limits growth

Functional Nutrients

Fibre becomes fashionable, but continues to be a deficiency
High fibre and high protein claims still have a low category penetration
Protein remains an on-demand nutrient despite overconsumption
Protein demand increasingly takes a qualitative angle
Product innovation on the horizon

Labelling and Regulations

Regulatory measures in fight against rising obesity rates
Making healthier choices: front-of-pack labels inform (or deter) consumers
Encouraging companies to develop healthier portfolios

Future of Functional Food

Food as medicine expected to thrive in the future
Preventative health with food as medicine arouses interest of insurers
Outlook for functional food and the regulatory environment


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