Proactively Supporting Health with Functional Nutrition Ingredients


From probiotic beverages to immune-supporting foods, brands are tasked with combining taste and function in new product launches

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KerryDigest Fast Facts:

  • Functional foods and beverages continue to be in demand around the world, including products that support immune strength and digestive health.
  • The consumer pursuit of healthy foods that taste good is inspiring manufacturers to create the products that are both delicious and nutritious.
  • Choosing well-supported functional ingredients that don’t impact taste can help manufacturers add the benefits consumers want in a variety of food and beverage categories.

KerryDigest Full Scoop:

The functional food and beverage market has grown significantly in the wake of COVID-19, and consumer interest in proactively managing their health continues to evolve. While products with added protein and fiber are still in demand, consumer sentiment is focused more strongly than ever on proactively supporting health, particularly with functional products like immune-supporting foods and probiotic beverages. New research suggests a few areas of opportunity for brands that want to create products that combine functional benefits with indulgent formats and flavours.

Functional foods

Appetite is growing for functional food products that support immune health and overall well-being, with 58% of global consumers citing immune health as their top reason for purchasing healthy lifestyle products, according to our new proprietary research. This is creating opportunities for manufacturers to provide innovative products that meet demand.

Eating with a purpose

In the rapidly-cycling global food market, for every trend, there is a counter-trend. For instance, plant-based dairy products are big, and so are dairy products with added beneficial ingredients, like beta glucans, DHA, omega-3s, prebiotics and choline, an essential nutrient for brain development. Formulating foods that align with trends and counter-trends—such as products that combine the want for indulgence and the need for nutrition and health—can result in opportunities to create innovative foods with multiple benefits that meet consumer demand.


Our research notes that 64% of global consumers are tailoring their life and the products they buy to meet their individual needs, like support for immune health, and nowhere is this felt more strongly than in feel-good foods like snacks. While snacks have been traditionally considered indulgent, a majority of global consumers say they’d like to see products such as snack bars fortified with beneficial ingredients. Manufacturers have responded to the call to create ‘better-for-you’ versions of tasty comfort foods, including adding immune health ingredients such as Wellmune®, Kerry’s proprietary yeast beta glucan.

Top categories of snack foods with immune health benefits, according to FMCG Gurus research, include:

  • Snack bars: 54% of European consumers choose snack bars with functional ingredients customized for need states such as immune support
  • Confectionary: More than a quarter of consumers report eating or purchasing confectionary with functional benefits
Beneficial beverages

The global functional beverage market was worth US$102B in 2020, and growth is predicted at a CAGR of 3.2% through 2025, according to EuroMonitor. As the market evolves with consumer demand, categories including dairy and alternative dairy products, energy drinks, wellness shots and coffees and teas that are fortified with ingredients such as probiotics continue to grow substantially.


Personalized benefits

Demand for custom beverages formulated with science-backed benefits is gaining global momentum. As consumers search for products that meet their individual needs, they’re also reading labels and research more closely: three-quarters of global consumers who purchase probiotics say science-based claims play an important role in their decision making. Personalization can encompass many formats and types of products, including beverages for specific consumer groups and those with recognizable and preferred ingredients, such as BC30™ probiotics.

Kerry’s proprietary research found the following top functional beverage categories, based on feedback from consumers interested in products with digestive health benefits:

  • Refreshing options: Enhanced waters with benefits align hydration with support for overall health. Our research shows that 40% of consumers have purchased or are interested in purchasing these beverages.
  • Meal replacements: Nearly half of consumers surveyed are grabbing beverage-based meal replacements for health benefits.
  • Coffee and tea: Long a source of comfort and relaxation, more than a third of consumers are now turning to both hot and ready-to-drink versions of coffee and tea for digestive health benefits.

In an expanding market where claims are increasingly important, supporting a product’s benefits by formulating with research-backed ingredients is the best way to establish consumer trust. To learn how we can help develop on-trend functional products, contact us.

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