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Making Functional Foods Better: Adding Benefits for Immune Health

In today’s world, sentiment is focused more strongly than ever on proactively preserving health. As awareness of the importance of maintaining both physical and emotional health grows, interest in practices like fitness and nutrition is growing. As a result, nearly two-thirds of global consumers say they have found more ways to tailor their life and the products, particularly immune-supporting foods they buy to their individual style, beliefs and needs. Reflecting such shifts, the global wellness market is estimated to be worth more than $1.5 trillion USD with annual growth of 5-10% forecast.

Immune system support, in particular, is on consumers’ minds. Six in ten (58%) of global consumers surveyed by Kerry, the makers of Wellmune®, cited immune health as their top reason for purchasing healthy lifestyle products. In general, consumers feel that choosing foods that are naturally high in nutrients as one of the top means of achieving immune health, and nearly 60% of global consumers said they were looking for food and beverages to help them in this regard. With consumers increasingly seeking personalized benefits, opportunities abound for creating functional foods for immune health that align to growing demand for supporting overall well-being.

What do consumers hunger for?

In the rapidly-cycling global food market, for every trend, there is a counter-trend. For instance, plant-based dairy products are big, but so are dairy products with added beneficial ingredients, like yeast beta glucans for immune health, DHA, omega-3s, prebiotics and choline – an essential nutrient for brain development.

Consumers are increasingly seeking products that align with trends and counter-trends, resulting in opportunities for manufacturers to create innovative foods with multiple benefits that meet consumer demand:

  • 71% of global consumers express a desire for products that provide nutrition or benefit the way the body functions; for example, products with added functional ingredients like support for immune health, those high in protein, or superfoods.
  • Dairy and alternative dairy products are a natural fit in emerging protein-enriched and plant-based spaces, and these benefits pair well with the addition of immune support. Kerry’s recent global research notes top purchase categories for consumers seeking products with immune health benefits:

  • The ‘healthy indulgence’ trend has created opportunities to provide better-for-you foods with immune health benefits. Examples include frozen yogurt enriched with beta glucans for immune support. Nearly half of consumers surveyed by Kerry say they are interested in snacks that provide benefits, like support for immune health.


Get more insight on foods with functional benefits. Download the white paper.


Choosing the most beneficial ingredients

Increasing consumer focus on healthy options that maintain a sense of comfort can be a perfect opportunity to add benefits to functional foods. Over the last few years, especially, support for immune health was one of the fastest-growing health claims for global food and beverage product launches, according to Innova. With the increasing number of immune-supporting products on the market, consumers want clarity to help them make the choices that best suit their needs. It’s critical when evaluating a product that consumers understand the science behind it.

Research has shown that yeast beta glucans offer immune-supporting benefits. But not all beta glucans affect immune activity. A recent study, published in peer-reviewed scientific journal Food Chemistry, helps to illustrate that each source of yeast beta glucan has a unique chemical structure. Wellmune®, Kerry’s science-backed yeast beta glucan, can help manufacturers create personalized products that meet emerging consumer trends for immune-supporting foods. Download the white paper, Satisfying Consumer Demand for Functional Foods with Immune Health Benefits, to learn how.

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