29 February, 2008
Consumers are growing increasingly sceptical of health claims on food and drink packaging, according to a report from Datamonitor.
But Michael Hughes, consumer market analyst and author of the study, said: "Current market conditions suggest the functional food market will continue to witness impressive growth rates in the future."The international market for functional food products is worth £36.7bn, but the research company said there has been an undeniable decline in consumer trust and confidence. "Consumers often feel that claims made by the manufacturers are either false or simply a sales gimmick."EU regulations on health claims on food products are fairly stringent. A new regulation passed in 2006 on health claims requires manufacturers to demonstrate a relationship between the consumption of a particular food and better health or the reduced likelihood of particular disease before they can advertise it. Companies in the UK also need to apply for approval via the Food Standards Agency.Despite these regulations, spurred by media coverage of food safety scares and product recalls, consumers are wary of foods containing artificial ingredients and are opting for organic or fresh. Nonetheless, forecasts for the functional food market are positive, especially in Asia-Pacific, which is expected to outgrow the European market.