Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Functional food in the European Union

Funded under: FP7-KBBE


Functional food is defined as food that is taken as part of the usual diet and has beneficial effects that go beyond traditional nutritional effects. So far this functionality is mainly created during the industrial processing of the food through the addition of bio-active ingredients. Over the last years functional food has gained an increasing market share and the health claims made on food have recently been regulated at the EU level. It is therefore pertinent to analyse the potential market for functional food and its likely future development. It is also important to understand consumer attitudes and expectations regarding functional food, and the competitiveness of the different approaches to confer functionality in terms of their respective cost-effectiveness needs to be clarified. There is considerable uncertainty regarding the size of the market for functional food, both within the EU and globally. Estimates of the global functional food market from various sources and different years fall into a range of EUR 25-60 billion. A recent, lower-bound estimate indicated a size of EUR 6.4 billion for the EU market. By far the biggest market share is still occupied by dairy products and beverages - followed by cereals only as a distant third category. In terms of bioactive ingredients plant extracts are used more frequently, although - due to the large number of dairy products - probiotic bacteria cultures clearly dominate, followed by prebiotics. On the demand side a survey in four selected Member States of the EU showed that many grocery shoppers were not familiar with the term "functional food", although, when given some examples, most of them had already bought such products. Better nutrition knowledge was thereby correlated with a more positive attitude towards functional food and female, younger and richer respondents were more likely to buy functional food products.

Additional information

Authors: STEIN AJ, Joint Research Centre (IPTS);RODRÍGUEZ-CEREZO E (Editiors), Joint Research Centre (IPTS)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 23380 EN (2008), 76 pp. Free of charge
Availability: (Catalogue Number: LF-NA-23380-EN-C)
ISBN: ISBN: 978-92-79-09071-4
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top