Scientifically Functional Foods
Have healthy benefits as a result of science-driven product design around the key functional nutrient.
Little sensitivity for the cultural rules of acceptability for a specific food category.
For many consumers these products appear as “man made”, industrial foods and beverages that can conjure up negative connotations.
Scientifically functional products often have key ingredients that are not understandable and may trigger disgusting taste associations or fears of medicinal side effects.
Strengths: Ability to have ownable brand-level distinctions in a category of targeted functional benefit.
Weaknesses: Weak ties, if any, to food culture. Big hurdles around taste. The product is unlikely to ever be viewed as food, leaving the beverage category as the primary pathway to success.
Inherently Functional Foods
Have naturally occurring health benefits.
Often described as whole, fresh, real foods.
Sell well because their nutrients offer health benefits that are well understood in popular food culture. They make cultural sense and raise no concerns about taste, side effects, etc. − Calcium – Milk
− Omega-3s – Salmon − Vitamin C – Orange Juice
Strengths: This approach avoids the danger of cueing medicine. Consumer acceptance is near universal, unless the nutrient being highlighted is obscure (e.g., polyphenols in grape juice).
Weaknesses: Claims are never ownable to a brand, since they stem
from nutrients in a broad food category (e.g., cracker brand “Z” is heart healthy because it is made with whole grains is a claim all whole grain crackers can make). These do not tend to offer enough distinction with consumers to command a higher price than private label equivalents.
Enhanced Functional Foods
We believe there is an opportunity for developing products that have inherent functionality yet are enhanced through minimal food processing to have an added health benefit.
Enhancing the naturally occurring power of the base food:
Yogurt plus proprietary functional probiotic strain
Oat granola bar with added inulin for extra fiber
Adding a complementary functional ingredient that does not cue bad taste:
Cranberry juice with added B vitamins for energy
Yogurt with high antioxidant berries
Strengths: Ability to have ownable brand-level distinctions in a category is higher, since a proprietary ingredient (e.g., probiotic strains in Activia) can be the added nutrient.
Weaknesses: Poorly researched nutrient choice could trigger bad taste perception (e.g., omega fatty acids in milk) or perceptions of the product as medicine or frankenfood.
yogurt with enhanced probiotics
OPPORTUNITIES IN FUNCTIONAL FOODS | THE HARTMAN GROUP, INC.