Home Nutritional Enhancement and its Application in Functional Foods

Harmonizing Traditional Wisdom with Modern Wellness Approaches

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” attributed to Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician still resonates to this day. Similarly, in the 19th century French author, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, “You are what you eat”. These proverbs remain relevant in today’s food and nutrition landscape. Nutraceuticals encompassing both functional foods and dietary supplements, are formulated to confer health benefits along, while preventing and mitigating ailments. As the realm of nutraceuticals broadens within contemporary consumption patterns, it becomes imperative for innovators to focus on enhancing the nutritional value of their products. Functional foods offer a substantial avenue for innovation through ingredient exploration, delivery formats and health-enhancing claims.

Consumers are increasingly prioritizing preventive health approaches leading to a strong integration of functional foods in the nutrition and healthcare sectors. The desire to move past pill fatigue and dietary supplements has nudged consumers to seek out recognizable categories such as bakery and confectionery that are fortified with value-added nutrients. The diversity of these food products, combined with the preservation of original taste and flavor parameters, is driving the growth momentum of functional foods. In this article, we will examine the prevailing trends in the functional foods domain and savor how manufacturers are enhancing ingredient functionality to attain a sustainable growth trajectory.


Trends and Opportunities in Functional Foods

The global functional food and beverage market is projected to reach half a trillion US dollars by 2028 exhibiting a healthy CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 9.5% between 2021-2028. A major chunk of this growth stems from consumer demand for products supporting health and overall well-being. The demand dynamics have become more pronounced after the COVID-19 pandemic, with consumers making deliberate and conscious efforts to purchase more wellness products.

  • Digestive and immune health

Recent data from Kerry revealed that six out of ten consumers prioritized immune health while purchasing healthy lifestyle products. With growing consumer awareness of 70-80% of immune cells residing in the gut, there is a greater demand for products promoting digestive health benefits. The International Food Information Council survey of 2022 indicates that one in three consumers seeks probiotics for their gut health benefits.

  • Booming botanicals

Functional foods and beverage manufacturers are increasingly incorporating extracts from herbs and spices to address specific health needs such as joint health, cognitive performance, and beauty support. Soluble, cost-effective, and flavor-neutral botanical ingredients are making their way into functional beverages. This evolution has expanded the range of health benefits beyond traditional dietary supplements.

  • Indigenous Inclination

Consumers are exploring ethnic flavors in applications such as snacks, ready meals, beverages, and baked confections. According to Fuchs Ethnic Flavor Trends, the food service sector is also turning towards indigenous and natural flavorings. Indigenous cuisines often showcase the use of herbal extracts, providing dual benefits of sensory appeal and preservative action. Processed food manufacturers are also incorporating exotic flavors to provide premium offerings. For instance, In June 2023, a US-based beverage brand, Marquis launched a botanical-inspired lemon lavender flavor in its caffeine drink.


  • Mood food


The connection between food and emotional well-being is capturing consumer interest. There is a growing demand for mood-boosting food and beverages with claims ranging from cognitive enhancements such as focus and energy to relaxation and stress relief. Ingredients like adaptogenic herbs, nootropics, omega fatty acids, and B vitamins are being incorporated into products such as chocolate confections, cookies, chips, ice cream, and ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages.

Emerging players in the functional foods segment



Emerging players in the functional foods segment

The functional food and beverage space is brimming with start-ups and emerging players offering innovative ingredients, revolutionizing delivery modes, and health-promoting label claims. As consumers are increasingly linking dietary habits to healthfulness, companies are exercising due diligence in product development and processing techniques to develop effective, sustainable, and tasteful solutions. Here are a few notable examples of start-ups and emerging companies in the functional foods market along with glimpses into their portfolio.

  • Probicient

Probicient is a Singapore-based technology-first company specialising in flavour, nutrition, and advanced fermentation and probiotification techniques. The firm has developed the world’s first probiotic beer. Their unique probiotic beer, crafted through patented fermentation processes, supports immune and gut health. The company’s proprietary technology involves a distinct pairing of unique strains and patented fermentation processes, a technological breakthrough that ensures the probiotics’ survivability of 1 billion colony-forming units (CFU), together with its intrinsic antimicrobial compounds. The company has invested more than 1.5 million US dollars into research and development activities to date.

  • Lyvecap

Lyvecap is a US-based manufacturer of first-of-its-kind probiotic-packed caps and bottles providing dosage-controlled probiotic formulations. The product can be mixed into any drink and can be stored at room temperature for up to one week without affecting viability. The company offers LYVECAP STRONG caps and sachets containing 200 billion CFUs, composed of 8 selected bacterial strains. The products are designed for athletes and contain leucine and taurine, two essential amino acids for building and repairing muscles.

  • Mahala Botanical

Mahala Botanical is a South African non-alcoholic craft spirit manufacturer. The company adopts a triple-distillation process utilizing nine hand-sourced botanicals. They operate via a farm-to-bottle approach, from foraging the herbs to distillation in custom-built vacuum stills.

  • Amphi Botanicals

Amphi Botanicals is a UK-based functional beverage manufacturer offering products in single-serving sachets. Each formula contains blends of vitamins, minerals, and an adaptogen such as Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and medicinal mushrooms. The company offers two products. Defend – the composition, which includes orange, ginger, the adaptogen Reishi mushroom, vitamin C and zinc for immune support. Another product, under the brand name Focus, is a coffee-based functional blend containing Lion’s Mane mushroom and Ginkgo Biloba for cognitive support.


In the dynamic landscape of functional food and beverages, the essence of ingredient functionality remains paramount. Both manufacturers and researchers must keep a close eye on early-stage innovations unfolding in the formulation space of the functional food segment. Techno-commercial insights can be harnessed to craft effective product compositions exhibiting multifunctional attributes and delivery convenience. Product formulators need to tap into established categories such as bakery, confectionery, dairy, beverages, and snacks to offer nutritive value-addition with guilt-free indulgence.

The triumph of functional ingredients on the global stage is undeniable, and the path ahead holds immense promise. However, some of the inherent challenges with regard to food matrices compatibility, bioavailability, cost-effectiveness, and sensory enhancement can be addressed by channelizing greater resources towards research and development efforts, product innovation initiatives, and understanding consumer perception via pre-market surveys and trials.

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