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Forecasts range from between 8.5 percent and 20 percent, the finance firm said, compared to one and four percent for the entire food industry.
Functional foods have grown to the point where they account for five percent of the food industry, with consumers more interested than ever in fortified foods – even those whose overall nutrient profile is variable.
The Pricewaterhouse Coopers report noted consumers were willing to pay premiums for foods that targeted health problems or provided an alternative to the likes of soda drinks and empty calorie snacks. And this was so even in hard economic times.
Dairy products, driven by the rise of probiotic products like Yoplait and Dannon's Activia, were the most successful and notched $7 billion in sales in 2007 – or about a quarter of the functional foods total.
The report comes after research conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) that found of those Americans trying to improve their diets, 79 percent are changing the types of foods they eat, 69 percent are changing the amount of foods consumed, and 19 percent are changing their use of dietary supplements.
In that study, the top ‘functional foods’ named by consumers (unaided) are: fruits and vegetables, fish/fish oil/seafood, dairy (including milk and yogurt), meat and poultry, herbs/spices, fiber, tea and green tea, nuts, whole grains and other grains, water, cereal, oats/oat bran/oatmeal, and vitamins/supplements.
When consumers are choosing foods for themselves and their children, they are interested in healthful components such as fiber, whole grains, protein, vitamin C, and calcium, which all play a role in building strong bodies and improving overall health,” wrote IFIC.