Functional Food Series Part 1

The Functional Food Series: Part 1

The Prevalence of Functional On-Pack Claims and Innovations

Functional food seems to be popping up everywhere lately. From tea to tuna, we’ve seen a number of brands innovate with health functions in mind. But we’ve also observed sectors who have not (yet) move in this direction. Join us on this 2-part Functional Food series starting with the world of functional claims and innovations.

The pandemic has seen a plethora of lifestyle and habit changes. We’ve seen shifts such as actively living more sustainably, using smart technology more often and living an increasingly balanced work and personal lifestyle. An additional key lifestyle change has been the consumer shift towards cleaner, more functional eating.

At Elephants, we have kept our radars on the food and drink industry’s branding movements to cater for the lifestyle changes that consumers have been adapting as a result of the pandemic.

One of the interesting trends we have seen over the past year or so is more and more brands bringing out functional innovations, positionings and on-pack claims.

3 key categories that have led the way are tea, canned fish and soft drinks:

2020 saw PG Tips launch three new variants of tea under the PG tips Plus name: Caffeine, Immunity and Metabolism. The Caffeine SKU contains extra caffeine and vitamin B6 which helps reduce tiredness, while Immunity contains a boost of vitamin C and Metabolism is “packed with” B12 to support the normal functioning of a person’s metabolism, according to PG Tips.

Source: PG Tips

This innovation move was made with a clear objective in mind: to broaden black tea appeal to provide consumers with the added benefits that they are looking for instead of turning to other drinks. How successful will this range continue to be, we wonder?

Tinned fish

John West have also launched a functional nutrient-rich tuna range called Enriched Tuna. Energy, which is tuna in spring water with vitamin B to help reduce tiredness and fatigue; Heart, tuna packed in rapeseed oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids; and Immunity, tuna in spring water with vitamin C to support the immune system.

Source: John West UK on YouTube

This was a strategic move to get consumers to buy fish, not just for convenience and practicality but, for health and wellbeing, and the aim to connect with younger and more health-conscious consumers.

Soft Drinks

Well loved British drinks brand Innocent Smoothies hold high credentials for health, nutrition, and helping consumers ‘hit their 5-a-day’. The brand stipulates that it was founded to make it easier for people to ‘do themselves some good’. Innocent have also innovated into the functional foods space with their Innocent Plus range. The new drinks contain a mixture of B & C vitamins, as well as botanical ingredients including orchard and floral goji. Each flavour is tailored to various health benefits: energise, invigorate, support and protect. The variety allows drinkers to choose what kind of boost they want.

Source: Innocent Drinks on YouTube

We are keeping our radars on to identify how many other brands will we see join the functional movement. We believe this brand strategy helps consumers purchase and make decisions because these claims (immunity, energy, heart health etc) provide heuristic shortcuts, allowing for consumers to be educated on the benefits of healthy food… and we’re here for it! However, how might consumers begin to react to the dominance of these new innovations and on-pack claims? Can this be seen as innovation for innovation’s sake, or is this adding real benefit to consumers’ lives?

Clearly, there’s a number of sectors that have already moved in this direction. However, there are also some sectors that have not yet moved into the functional foods innovation and on-pack claims territory… Keep an eye out on the Elephants Can’t Jump blog for part 2 of our Functional Food Series where we explore the categories that have yet to make this strategic move and our thoughts as to why.

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Have a look at Part 2 of our Functional food series.

Header Image Source: PG Tips Plus

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