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Coffee as a functional food

From the December 2016 issue.

Coffee manufacturers are now tapping into the growing market for functional food products.

Canned coffee

With all the attention now being given to so-called functional foods – those foods that have an additional health benefit or other desirable effect on the consumer – it was only a matter of time before the coffee industry started to get involved in this growing market.

Asian coffee producers have been adding ginseng to instant coffee for a number of years to offer additional benefits of improving blood circulation, mood, and memory.

Now coffee producers outside Asia are adding magnesium, protein, and additional caffeine to coffee. These functional coffees can leverage the growing number of consumers worldwide who lead busy lifestyles with inadequate sleep and little time for meals and want a quick energy boost and an easy way to improve their health.

By boosting functionality and emphasising the mental and athletic performance properties of coffee, coffee producers seek to trade up consumers from standard coffee and RTD (ready-to-drink) coffee products, as well as to attract users of energy drinks, meal replacement products, and sports protein products.

Instant coffee and RTD coffee products with a fortified or functional claim outperformed their standard counterparts at a global level over the 2010-2015 period and are projected to continue doing so over the 2015-2020 period.

More coffee producers are expected to enter the functional coffee arena and contribute to continued growth by meeting consumers’ desires for energy plus additional benefits, such as protein, athletic performance, and mental clarity.

Functional instant coffee set to continue growing in Asia Pacific
The Asia Pacific is the biggest region for sales of fortified/functional instant coffee with US$271 million in retail value sales in 2015, with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 12 per cent over the 2010-2015 period.

Among the earliest functional/fortified coffees were instant coffee mixes of coffee, sugar and non-dairy creamer enhanced with ginseng. Asian coffee producers combined the convenience and energy boost of instant coffee with ginseng, a herb used in traditional Chinese and Korean Asian medicine.

The four-in-one instant coffee mix with ginseng in single-serve sachets became popular in many Asian countries as urbanisation and long work hours created a demand for products offering energy and mood enhancement in an easy to prepare beverage.

The market for functional instant coffees expanded to include products with weight-loss claims as well. Functional instant coffee remains popular in many Asian countries despite the availability of other caffeinated alternatives, such as energy drinks and carbonates.

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