Functional Ingredients Move to the Forefront

Editor’s note: This article is a free, one-time preview of The Food Institute’s new Premium articles, which will be available to members. To join FI, click here

Dr. Kellyann Petrucci, a New York Times best-selling author, says you can write it down: 2022 will be all about functional ingredients.

Products that promote health benefits, like improved gut health, could soon become popular.

“We’re going to see gut-healthy drinks like kombucha and bone broth get an upgrade,” Petrucci said, “with added functional ingredients like antioxidants, adaptogens [natural substances, like ginseng, considered to help the body adapt to stress], mushrooms, and other plants to create functional elixirs that not only support gut-health but also improve digestion, energy, and mental focus.”

Demand for immunity-boosting ingredients increased earlier in the pandemic, with many consumers attracted to foods perceived to have health benefits.

For example, probiotic foods – like kefir, yogurt, pickled vegetables, and kimchi – may boost gut health. And functional food ingredients like turmeric, honey, green tea extract and fish oil are all noteworthy anti-inflammatory substances gaining prominence, according to Justin Nabity, CEO of advisory group Physicians Thrive.

Spurred by the pandemic, an estimated 75% of customers plan to eat and drink healthier in the near term, per German ingredient company Beneo. With that, the global market for functional food ingredients is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.9%, according to a report published by

Petrucci also noted that more consumers consider themselves “sober-curious,” and are looking for healthy alternatives to alcohol that still provide stress relief.

“Emerging brands are using functional ingredients, such as [amino acids like] GABA and 5-HTP and adaptogens like Rhodiola Rosea to create beverages that aim to create that euphoric feeling some get with alcohol, but without all the negative side effects,” she said.

“I believe we’re going to see more beverages with vitamin and mineral combinations that are more powerful when combined than alone,” Petrucci added. “For example, pairing vitamin C and zinc, or giving you vitamins and minerals along with anti-inflammatory ingredients like ginger, turmeric, cherry, and elderberry in a single shot.”