Vitafoods: Hot Topic 2

April 23, 2014

United States: Leading the Way for Functional Food?

United States: Leading the Way for Functional Food?

EU and global marketers can learn from the experiences of U.S. functional food/drink marketers, says Vitafoods Europe conference speaker Jeff Hilton, partner and cofounder of U.S. strategy, branding, and public relations firm BrandHive. His session takes place on May 7.

Functional food and drink “is a more mature category in the United States than the rest of the world, largely,” Hilton points out. “The range of products is broader and deeper, and there is greater demand in the United States. So, in that sense, USA is leading the way.”

While there is great, untapped potential for functional food in other global markets-especially the EU and India-marketers must deal with the fact that consumers in those yet undeveloped-functional-food markets face a learning curve when it comes to some of the more-niche yet beneficial functional ingredients.

For instance, while more U.S. consumers are now familiar with ingredients like chia, hemp, and pea protein, in many other global markets, the focus is still on “expected” ingredients like fiber, protein, and antioxidants, Hilton says. “Foods and beverages that can provide nutrients which slow oxidation and arterial damage hold tremendous marketing promise, particularly in countries such as India where the overall population is now fairly young and middle-aged,” he adds.

“There is a huge education challenge facing companies introducing these [new ingredients] into foreign markets,” Hilton concludes. “So it is a slow process of education, influence, and trial generation.” Tactics like product samples can help pave the way.

 

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