Functional foods. We’ve all heard the term. We know that in the past functional foods were considered to be foods that had a potentially positive effect on health beyond their basic nutritional value. For instance, oatmeal contains soluble fiber that can help lower cholesterol. Or salmon is an excellent functional food because the omega-3 fatty acids can reportedly decrease the risk of heart disease.
But today, functional foods mean so much more to both consumers and brands.
As an example, mental health is top of mind for everyone. And science has proven that how we eat can dramatically impact how we feel. In fact, certain foods can modify our moods—for better or worse. Consumers are actively purchasing foods that make them feel better and improve their state of mind.
Mental health illustrates just one area of life where consumers are utilizing food to serve a functional purpose—other than sustenance and satisfaction. There are foods that improve your active lifestyle and overall fitness, help you relax and sleep better, improve your sex life, or boost your immune system. In general, certain foods can help you live a longer, happier, healthier life.
What does this mean for your food brand?
It means that this is a macro trend and it’s not going away. So, you need to think about ways of incorporating functional foods into your innovation pipeline. Think about; plant-based, protein, probiotics, or superfoods—how can you integrate them into your current products?
Here’s a great example; Jennie-O, who already had a great turkey burger with strong health benefits, came out with a blended turkey burger. They simply incorporated black beans, whole grain rice, and pepitas to boost the protein and fiber content.
This type of thinking can apply across all categories. It just takes a little creative thinking along with a mindset towards innovation.
Consumers are on a quest for food that can improve their mental and physical well-being, enhance their quality of life, or perhaps even bring some level of healing. How will you and your brand respond?