Today’s consumers seek products that not only taste delicious but are also packed with health benefits that go beyond basic nutrition. Food with functional ingredients that positively impact the body is all the rage and a macro trend that is expected to keep growing in 2024. Watch the KeHE® “Functional Foods” video to learn more.

According to Mintel, 85% of consumers currently eat or drink products that contain functional ingredients. By stocking shelves with products that offer functional benefits, retailers can drive purchases and offer in-demand products that 28% of consumers are willing to pay extra for to bring home to their families.

What are functional foods?

Functional foods offer a wide array of health benefits from protein for muscle repair, to carbohydrates for energy and gut health, to vitamins and minerals for cell function, immunity, cognitive health, hydration, and so much more. These are foods that are minimally processed and when consumed regularly, may result in health and wellness benefits.

Some examples of functional foods include:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids:  Found in fish, seeds, and beans, and may be protective against cardiac diseases, memory impairment, and cognitive impairment.
  • Probiotics: Found in yogurt, pickled vegetables, and Kombucha, and may lead to a healthy intestine, improve immune function, and assist with weight loss.
  • Prebiotics: Found in bananas, oats, and garlic, and may exert a favorable impact on the microbiome of the colon.
  • Plant Sterols and Stanols: Found in whole wheat, nuts, seeds, and avocados, and may decrease the blood level of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
  • Tea: May be protective against obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and some neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Berries: Beneficial for health and may be protective against cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s.

While functional foods come in all flavors and varieties, one thing is certain: retailers who are prioritizing these products are capitalizing on a growing trend in the industry.

Functional Food Trends Revealed

Within the functional food portfolio, there are a few trends emerging as we settle into 2024. Here is what you need to know:

Precision Nutrition

Consumers are leveraging personalized data to find and buy micronutrients that align with their specific health needs. After years of trying a one-size-fits all approach, consumers are now looking for tailored experiences and more precise products to reach their goals.

Cognitive Reload

Consumers are seeking foods that optimize brain function, help manage stress, and provide homeopathic remedies to common health and wellness conditions. Products such as Ashwagandha and adaptogens contain chemicals known to reduce anxiety and help induce better sleep. Ginseng has been found to combat fatigue and Schisandra is known for improving concentration and coordination.

A Thirst for Change

Hydration and electrolyte products are continuing to experience massive growth in the food and beverage market. The portfolio grew from $142 million in 2021 to $500 million in 2023—and the upward trend is expected to continue. Today, there are more beverages and flavors than ever, including low or zero sugar and vitamins and electrolyte options.

By building a product portfolio that spotlights an array of functional foods, retailers give consumers a direct line to the items they want and drive purchases of innovative products that are nutritious and packed with ingredients that do bodies good.

At KeHE, we are focused on natural & organic, specialty, and fresh products and embracing trends, including the “Functional Foods” trend, to connect with evolving consumer preferences and further the bridge to partner success.

Stock your shelves now!