December 3, 2020 Comments(0)

Get Your Snack On with These Top 5 Functional Food Trends

Eight in ten surveyed consumers believe a healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise, relaxation, good nutrition, and attention to mental and emotional health. What better way to increase happiness and healthy eating habits with functional foods in snack products? Check out these top functional food trends and get your snack on. 

What are functional foods?

Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Functional foods offer people additional health benefits through superior nutrition. 

These types of foods are nutrient-dense and filled with the good stuff, like vitamins and minerals. They can be organic or modified foods. Healthy whole-grain cereals fortified with iron would be considered a functional food — although modified. 

Technically, the FDA regulates food labeled with the term “functional.” But the FDA does not provide a legal definition of functional food. 

Functional food trend #1: Seaweed snacks

People have been eating seaweed since ancient times. This functional food is chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and nutritional trace elements. Here are just a few of the healthy things you can get from eating seaweed:

  • Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K
  • Magnesium, calcium, potassium
  • Omega oils, antioxidants, and fiber

Also, seaweed is considered one of the leading sources of iodine, critical for thyroid, bone, brain, and metabolic health. But many of us don’t live anywhere close to places where it’s easy to source fresh seaweed — enter seaweed snacks, a significant functional food trend. 

One of the most popular seaweed snacks in the US is Annie Chun’s Organic Seaweed Snacks. They’re crunchy, salty, and yummy like a potato chip, but way healthier. 

Since today’s consumers are far more health-conscious than in the past, many brands are jumping on the functional food trend and incorporating seaweed snacks into their product lines. 

Functional food trend #2: High-protein Cognitive Snacks for the Brain

Consumers increasingly demand sustainable practices from brands they trust. Protein is critical for strong muscles and it’s a major brain food. But meat-based protein products aren’t always obtained through earth-friendly practices. 

Plant-based proteins are becoming a major functional food trend in the snack industry. Many innovative brands are creating high-protein, plant-based snacks that don’t taste like corrugated cardboard. A high-protein snack can give your brain a quick pick-me-up during those afternoon Zoom meeting slumps. 

Pea protein is one of the most in-demand plant-based proteins in 2020. Brands selling meat substitutes and dairy products are making the switch to pea and other plant protein sources. One popular company in this niche is My Greek Taste and their Organic Pea Cocoa Protein, sold in a stylish pouch. 

functional food seaweed snack
Seaweed is full of vitamins and is steadily rising as a popular functional food ingredient.

Functional food trend #3: Energy snack products

Over half of surveyed consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 are concerned about their lack of energy levels. This is especially true among consumers with small children in the home. 

People’s lives are busier and more hectic than ever, and it’s no wonder the average adult has trouble staying alert through it all. Energy snack products in the functional foods realm are gaining steam. The brand Sweet Earth Foods is capitalizing on this trend. 

The company’s snack food, POGO, stands for Power on the Go. These energy snack wraps are full of pro and probiotics, fiber, and protein, for an energy-boosting superfood combo. 

Split Nutrition is another healthy snack foods brand disrupting the market. The company believes that a healthy snack can be had anywhere — working out at home or on-the-go. Split Nutrition’s attractive split snack packaging offers additional portion control. (Link to the new blog in this section.)

functional food_snack packaging
Snack bars can have specific functions such as a protein replacement.

Functional food trend #4: Probiotics and digestive health

One in five people is dealing with digestive problems every day. Managing the diet and making good nutrition choices can drastically reduce stomach upset and other gastrointestinal issues. Functional foods that use probiotics are some of the snack products that modern consumers are reaching for. That’s It Probiotic Fruit Bars are full of active probiotic cultures that aid in digestion and gut health. 

Functional Food Trend #5: Stress-relieving snacks

Energy-boosting functional food trends are on the rise. But so are snack products that go the other direction — helping people relax. So many of us are under a lot of pressure these days, and stress-eating is rarely healthy. Instead of reaching for the usual comfort foods — greasy snacks and sugar-laden pastries — 25% of consumers reach for stress-relieving healthy snacks first. 

Hemp and CBD snacks, like gummies and peanut butter protein snacks, are gaining in popularity. Stress-relief teas, and even calming chews for pets, are fast becoming pantry staples. 

Keep an eye out for these functional food snacking trends. 

For businesses in the snack foods industry, taking note of rising trends in consumer eating habits is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage. 

At Prairie State Group, we’ve helped snack food companies print eye-catching, branded labels and packaging that will make mouths water. Contact our representatives today to learn more about our processes. 


Ingredient Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

Seaweed Photo by Silas Baisch on Unsplash