Trending: How to Remain Innovative in the Booming Functional Foods Market with an ELN

Functional foods contain or are given additional functions, typically with health benefits or disease prevention characteristics. Cranberry juice is often consumed to help prevent urinary tract infections.
Image source: Mariluna via Wikimedia Commons

We always have a box of Multi Grain Cheerios in our house. Sometimes I have a bowl with bananas for breakfast, but more typically I just give handfuls to my kids while they’re waiting for me to prepare dinner. I never really though much about why I buy them: they’re pretty cheap, my 9-month-old can eat them without choking, and they’re easy to transport. But as we were eating breakfast the other morning I actually took a few minutes to read the label and saw this interesting claim: Studies show that people who eat more grain tend to have healthier body weights.

The label goes on to describe how these Cheerios are your first step to losing weight through their beneficial plant nutrients, antioxidants, fiber and vitamins. Of course, the scientist in me thinks, “Now, are these studies showing correlation or causation?” Either way, with the amount of honey I pour on my bowl, I’m pretty sure Cheerios will have no correlative or causative effect on me when it comes to losing weight. This box of Cheerios is an exemplary model of a functional food. Functional foods are natural or processed foods that contain or are given additional functions, typically with health benefits or disease prevention characteristics. Multi Grain Cheerios has the added function of helping consumers maintain a healthy body weight through the whole grain content in the cereal.

The functional food market is growing, with demand expected to increase over the next few years. With profit margins in the double digits for functional foods, firms who produce innovative, desirable products stand to earn high profits. Take a look at our tips on how to be innovative in the booming functional foods market:

Know your market. Whether you’re promoting high fiber products to geriatrics or energy drinks to 20-somethings, the market for functional foods is very diverse. For example, the North American market is driven by demand for fiber as part of functional foods while Europe should expect growth to be driven by demand for novel, soluble fibers. As Vietnam continues to experience economic growth, manufacturers should be aware of increasing demand for functional foods linked to weight reduction, cardiovascular health and anti-aging effects. One thing that does seem to be a consensus across markets, though, is that consumers want to be informed on the properties of functional foods, with informative labeling and dissemination of information through traditional media outlets.

Leverage the natural health properties of foods. Like my box of Cheerios, many foods already contain ingredients that have substantiated health claims; you just need to know what they are to capitalize on them. If you’re interested in developing a new functional food product, then research the biomedical literature to see what natural foods are generating exciting data. Your lab can build on previous findings to produce a functional food product from natural foods. An electronic laboratory notebook (ELN), like the Accelrys Notebook, can help drive innovation in your lab by providing food scientists with automated, functional features to support research activities. From its synthetic chemistry options to simple recording of multimedia, our ELN makes it easy to investigate in any field.

Fresh food
Many functional foods leverage the natural health properties of foods.
Image source: National Cancer Institute via Wikimedia Commons

Collaborate across disciplines. The functional foods market differs from traditional food and beverage markets in that functional foods manufacturers typically make health claims on their labels. Food and beverage firms may not be experienced in how to scientifically support label health claims. But by partnering with a pharmaceutical company, you can profit from each other’s core competencies. An ELN can support collaboration by providing a central location for both parties to deposit and analyze data. User rights can be easily defined for individualized access, and the ability to capture full audit trails allows users to keep up with changes.

Functional foods have been gaining in popularity for some time, and are only expected to grow stronger. The Accelrys Notebook can help your firm foster innovation to compete in this exciting sect of the foods market. Visit our website to learn more about the features of the Accelrys Notebook, and how it can help boost your presence in the food development industry.



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