Consumers Are Becoming the New Experts in Functional Foods and Dietary Health

Once considered to be the leading experts on food and health, dietitians and health professionals are no longer a go-to source for reputable diet and health information. Global functional food industry consumers have recognized the conflicts that result in constantly shifting dietary advice, and many have lost confidence in these so-called experts.

For example, the "experts" who so confidently advised us to replace saturated fats such as butter with polyunsaturated spreads for fear of heart disease, have now concluded that there is in fact no convincing evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease at all when used in moderation. More and more often, people find a majority of advice from the food and health industry experts to be confusing, leading them to do their own research and become their own experts when it comes to nutrition, functional foods and even food safety.

The availability of instant information at our fingertips is enabling consumers to conduct their own research. With this increased access to knowledge, consumers now feel more confident when it comes to creating their own personalized eating patterns and dietary structure. One in every two people now believe that individuals have their own unique nutritional and metabolic needs.

Every age group has their own food explorers, searching for new and interesting experiences. Consumers of all ages seek functional ingredients that can assist in replenishing their energy and nutrients. For example, instead of plain water consumers reach for vitamin C-fortified water in an attempt to boost immunity. Younger generations of students have been turning to energy boosting functional drinks when studying, and likewise, drivers turn to the same to maintain energy during long journeys. For older generations on a search for anti-aging resources, plant-based products such as hot cereal drinks, oatmeal drinks, and soybean powder drinks offer protein and fiber which assist in healthy aging.

Brands would be wise to understand that this new era of consumer exploration opens the door to more adventurous attitudes towards marketing and expansion. It may not be widely known that one of today’s most popular probiotic dairy brands, Yakult, whose global sales have reached $5.5 billion, was again and again dismissed as strange in the years following its release in 1955. Likewise, modern day sports nutrition brands and even those in the field of senior nutrition, are playing it less safe and going for the combination of weird and wonderful in the world of food, drink, and health.

Regardless of the opinion of the scientific community, more and more individuals are now turning to DNA testing for the purposes of dietary planning and health management. This can be seen only as a positive for dietary supplements and food supplements manufacturers, as supplements are much easier to reformulate for the purposes of meeting individual demands. In this era of lifestyle personalization, ideas about food and health are complex, and consumers are quickly modifying their choices as new information becomes available.

For companies seeking market entry and opportunities for cross border e-commerce, attending health food and functional food summits is a basic prerequisite for breaching the ASEAN market and beyond. The 4th Nutraceutical and Functional Food Asia Pacific Summit will provide a necessary education for attendees to become up-to-date on the regulatory framework for functional foods in important jurisdictions as well as learn about important market developments in detail. The summit will also provide opportunities for delegates of diverse backgrounds to brainstorm and collaborate.

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