IFT Show: What Was on the Menu?


Highlights of this year’s exciting functional food/beverage prototypes and products.

The Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meeting & Food Expo is always a veritable food frenzy. This year was no different. Suppliers served their ingredients up in the most delectable ways imaginable, showing attendees just what one can achieve with a little creativity, ingredient expertise, and formulation finesse. While all of these food and drink concepts have a healthy twist, the bottom line is that they are delicious, period.

Click here for a look at some of IFT's most unique functional food/beverage prototypes.

By the way, what’s the cardinal sin when it comes to functional food marketing? The answer may surprise you. According to Julian Mellentin, food, nutrition, and health expert and director of New Nutrition Business, the most common reason for failure is an “over-dependence” on health messaging to differentiate a brand.

Highlighting other product attributes will better bring that functional food sale home, Mellentin says. “Surprisingly often, companies make the health benefit the sole point of difference for the product, undervaluing key factors such as convenience,” he says. “When a product is essentially a me-too, with a health benefit attached, it’s inviting failure.”

Taste, for one, is an even bigger differentiator. When you’re truly devouring a meal-really enjoying and savoring it-are you thinking about how healthy it is? More likely you’re thinking about how delicious it tastes. And if there are health benefits, to boot? Even better. So, don’t skimp on taste, mouthfeel, or any other organoleptic attributes that may make your customer feel like eating healthy requires a tradeoff. Other reasons for failure, according to Mellentin:

  • Overestimating the potential market
  • Targeting the mass market too early, instead of starting a niche and growing from there
  • A perceived mismatch between the product and the benefit (such as fish oil in yogurt)

Mellentin covers more dos and don’ts in the new, third edition of his popular report, “Failures in Functional Foods and Beverages.” The 117-page report analyzes 22 case studies of brands that “stumbled,” as well as 12 causes of failure and 10 Golden Rules for success.


Infographic courtesy of New Nutrition Business.

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