Fueling the Future: Functional Foods Gain Momentum

woman holding up wooden tray with lettuce, tomato, onions rings and cooked patty for burger

The relentless pace of modern life has left much of society in constant search for an extra boost of energy or a way to sharpen focus. This, according to Noelle Creamer, is where functional, nutritious food comes into play.

“There’s this incredible level of awareness overwhelming everyone – awareness that what we put into our bodies can actually decode, and perhaps even solve, myriad health issues,” said Creamer, a national board-certified health and wellness coach who trained at Duke University.

“It’s no wonder there’s been a seismic shift in how we view our meals,” said Creamer, who is also an autoimmune paleo-certified coach. “People are actively seeking out foods rich in nutrients that promise to not just sustain them but to elevate their well-being.”

In 2024, many consumers seek functional foods that pack a punch in terms of nutrients and benefits.

Functional foods, according to the Mayo Clinic, have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. According to Grand View Research, the global functional foods market size was estimated at $281 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 8.5% through 2030. Worldwide, consumers are as concerned as ever about issues like gut health and stress.

“We’re seeing more and more people piecing together how these areas of health interconnect, seeking out foods that support those areas,” said Creamer, the co-founder of the BrightlyThrive autoimmune community app.

Natural wellness-product company Zurvita recently wrote about five functional food and supplements that promote better health, including the following:

  • Stabilized rice bran (rich in antioxidants)
  • Botanicals (ingredients from plant sources, like herbs)
  • Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E
  • Essential minerals (such as iron, magnesium, and potassium)
  • Amino acids (like L-arginine, glycine, and L-lysine)

In 2024, a very real opportunity exists for businesses like CPG brands and grocers to provide the types of functional foods consumers seek. The keys to taking advantage of the functional food movement is taking the following three steps, Creamer said:

Tell the full story. Share the benefits of functional ingredients in ways that resonate with consumers – “The success stories,” Creamer said, of “how adding certain foods to one’s diet made a tangible difference.”

Make it an easy process. Whether it pertains to price, availability, or simply learning how to incorporate functional foods into everyday meals, reducing barriers is imperative.

Focus on flavor. “We’ve got to bust the myth that ‘healthy’ equals bland,” Creamer said. “Showcasing delicious, vibrant dishes that just happen to be packed with goodness can win over even the most skeptical eaters.”