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Healthy Growth for Functional Foods

30 March 2020

Nicola Martin, Insight & Brand Building Specialist, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board





“I want to eat, drink and live to optimise my body’s systems, to feel better than well today and tomorrow”. (Bord Bia, 2019)


Bord Bia’s Consumer Lifestyle Trends forecast that health and well-being was an increasingly important important trend for consumers, but nobody foresaw to what extent this would be realised in 2020.



What does this mean for the Food and Drink industry and what is currently at play in the context of functional foods and immunity boosting products?



Michelle Teodoro, Global Food Science Analyst with Mintel published an article in September 2019 titled, Defend Against Disease with Immunity-Boosting Products. This report cited that “consumers consider strong immunity important for achieving a healthy lifestyle and are looking for products that can protect their body against immunity concerns”. (Mintel, 2019)


A simple Google search of “Immunity and food” shows the vast number of articles that have been published in recent days exploring immunity building foods and the Coronavirus.


Whilst according to Mintel, the number of food and drink immunity boosting products are increasing the growth is slow in comparison to supplements. (Mintel, 2019)


The beverage sector is one area that is seeing large growth in immunity claims. Yogi Tea’s Immune Support product is an example of such. The tea contains echinacea blends with elderberry and basil. According to their own website; “the natural vitamin C from the acerola cherry provides natural support for our body's defences”. (Yogi Tea, 2020).


The Vive Organic Wellness Shot range have an Immunity Boost Shot in their portfolio. Which they describe as “This power-packed blend of roots, fruits and flowers is the ultimate immune system strengthener.” A pack of 12 retails for $46 on their online store.


The immune boosting drinks are also available now in the form of tonic water, which could make an interesting addition to alcoholic beverages. The New Zealand wellness brand Golden Bay Springs exhibited their Bite Me Tonic at the Natural & Organic Products Show in Europe in 2018. “The immune-supporting tonic is made from Manuka honey, apple cider vinegar, ginger, cayenne pepper and turmeric to create an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and digestion-boosting shot”. [Stylus, 2018]


According to Euromonitor, the Functional Food market as a whole is forecast to be worth over €250 billion by 2023. (Euromonitor, 2018)


An area within the functional food arena that is increasing and very much linked to people’s immunity well-being is gut health. “The balance of bacteria in the gut influences the balance of the immune system. Around 70% of the immune system lives in the gut, and gut bacteria helps immune system cells develop”. (Mintel, 2019)


Tapping into this trend, Kellogg’s launched new cereals containing fibre, prebiotics and probiotics in the US market. Slight more future focussed, are the pill-sized, ingestible sensors that can detect gas activity in the stomach, sending real-time data to an app, developed by researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. [Stylus, 2018]


Given the environment that we are living in and the growth in the functional food space, Irish Food and Drink companies could consider the role health and wellness plays in their consumers lives. Particularly in the context of their innovation pipeline.


Bord Bia’s Functional Food and Beverage Innovation Playbook is a resource that Client Companies can use to facilitate this thinking. It is a starting-point for purposeful innovation, rooted in rising consumer needs and cultural shifts. That is likely more important now than ever before.




Bord Bia, 2019. Consumer Lifestyle Trends. [online] Dublin. Available at: <https://www.bordbiaconsumerlifestyletrends.ie/>

Bord Bia, 2019. Functional Food And Beverage Innovation Playbook. [online] Available at: <https://www.bordbia.ie/globalassets/bordbia.ie/industry/marketing-reports/consumer-reports/functional-food-and-beverage-innovation-playbook-june-2019.pdf>

Euromonitor, 2018. Functional Market Forecast.

Mintel, 2019. Defend Against Disease With Immunity-Boosting Products. [online]  <Available at www.Mintel.com>

Stylus, 2018. New Architecture Of Taste. [online] Available at: <https://www.stylus.com/zkqkjc>

Stylus, 2018. Ingestible Gut Health Sensor. [online] Available at: <https://www.stylus.com/fkxjjt>

YOGI TEA®. 2020. YOGI TEA® Immune Support Mild, With Natural Vitamin C.. [online] Available at: <https://www.yogitea.com/en/products/immune-support/>

Vive Organic 2020 IMMUNITY BOOST ORIGINAL. [online] Vive Organic. Available at: <https://vive-organic.com/products/immunity-boost>