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Trends in Food Science & Technology 31 (2013) 118e129


Innovation trends in
the food industry: Introduction
The food industry is one of the most important branches of
the national economy in Italy and in the European Union in
The case of general, playing a central role for the processing of agricul-
tural raw materials and food supply. As a consequence,

functional foods many authors stressed its relevance for employment and
economic output (Menrad, 2004). In innovation literature,
the food industry is traditionally regarded as a sector

Barbara Bigliardia,* and

with low research intensity (Christensen, Rama, & Von
Tunzelmann, 1996; Garcia Martinez & Briz, 2000).
Francesco Galatib Notwithstanding, innovations understood as new products,
processes or services are recognized as an important instru-
Department of Industrial Engineering, University of ment for companies belonging to the food industry to stand
Parma, Viale G.P. Usberti 181/A, Parma I-43124, Italy out from competitors and to satisfy consumer expectations
(Tel.: D39 0521 905860; fax: D39 0521 905853; (Menrad, 2004). In particular during the last decade, con-
e-mail: sumer requirements in the field of food production have
b changed considerably: in fact, consumers increasingly
Department of Economy and Technology,
University of San Marino, Strada della Bandirola 44, believe that food contribute directly to their health
Montegiardino 47898, San Marino (e-mail: francesco. (Mollet & Rowland, 2002; Young, 2000). Thus, foods are no more intended to only satisfy hunger and to provide
the necessary nutrients, but also and especially to prevent
nutrition-related diseases and to improve physical and
The food industry is one of the most important branches of the mental well-being (Menrad, 2003; Robertfroid, 2000b).
national economy in Italy and in the European Union in gen- Moreover, the food industry has been facing technical
eral, playing a central role for the processing of agricultural and economic changes both in society and in the
raw materials and food supply. This industry is traditionally manufacturing and food processing, that in turn had a sig-
regarded as a sector with low research intensity; notwith- nificant impact on the entire food supply chain, up to the
standing, innovations are recognized as an important instru- distribution of food to end consumers, and forced com-
ment for companies belonging to the food industry in order panies to pay high attention in food products that meet
to stand out from competitors and to satisfy consumer expec- the consumers demand for a healthy lifestyle. As a conse-
tations. In this regard, functional foods play an outstanding quence, innovation has been widely investigated also within
role, as demonstrated by their increasing demand derived this traditional industry.
from the increasing cost of healthcare, the steady increase of Innovations introduced in the food industry in recent
life expectancy, and the desire of older people for improved years mainly refer to new scientific and technical
quality of their later years. The main target of this paper is to approaches in food processing, and to the introduction of
analyze the state of the art on functional foods. For this pur- novel foods. In this regard, functional food plays an
pose, a review of extant literature is presented. Specific outstanding role, as demonstrated by their increasing
emphasis is laid on the definition and the main examples of demand derived from the increasing cost of healthcare,
functional food. The paper concludes with comments on the steady increase in life expectancy, and the desire of
future trends. older people for an improved quality of life in their later
years (Kotilainen, Rajalahti, Ragasa, & Pehu, 2006;
Robertfroid, 2000a, 2000b). As such, researchers agree in
stating that functional food represents one of the most inter-
esting areas of research and innovation in the food industry
(Annunziata & Vecchio, 2011; Jones & Jew, 2007; Sir o,
* Corresponding author. Kapolna, Kapolna, & Lugasi, 2008).
0924-2244/$ - see front matter 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
B. Bigliardi, F. Galati / Trends in Food Science & Technology 31 (2013) 118e129 119

Based on the premises above, the main target of this they have been sorted based on their title and summary
paper is to analyze the state of the art on functional foods. and subsequently by analyzing the body of the remaining
For this purpose, a review of the extant literature is pre- articles. As results of this double screening, we obtained
sented where specific emphasis is laid on the definition a final sample of 114 papers to be included in the review
and the main examples of functional food. The article con- as discussed in the following sections.
cludes with comments on future trends.
Functional foods: an overview
Innovation in the food industry The term functional food was first used in 1984 in
In innovation literature, the food industry is typically Japan as a result of a study on the relationships between
classified as a sector with low research intensity, accounting nutrition, sensory satisfaction, fortification and modulation
to one of the lowest R&D-to-sales ratios of any industrial of physiological systems in order to define those food prod-
sector. Moreover, the pace of technological change in this ucts fortified with special constituents that possess advanta-
industry, measured by the number of patented inventions, geous physiological effects (Hardy, 2000; Kwak & Jukes,
appears to be less dynamic than other manufacturing sec- 2001). Functional foods objectives are manifold: they
tors (Christensen et al., 1996; Garcia Martinez & Briz, improve the general conditions of the body (e.g., pre- and
2000). Fairly recently, Beckeman and Skjolkebrand probiotics), decrease the risk of some diseases (e.g.,
(2007) assessed the degree of innovation in the food indus- cholesterol-lowering products), and could be used for
try, stressing the fact that very little innovation is taking curing some illnesses (Mark-Herbert, 2004; Menrad,
place in the food industry. However, due to the fact that 2003; Side, 2006).
technology moved from the production age to the informa- Notwithstanding the increasing interest from both re-
tion age, toward the service age, the food sector kept searchers and the food industry toward functional foods,
growing and still appears to be growing faster than past it is not still clearly defined which foods are considered
years. as functional. As a consequence, it is difficult to estimate
Food industry innovations are often aimed at developing the market of these products (Kotilainen et al., 2006).
important replacement products, following nutritional di- Despite the mismatch of information on this market, in
rections, or obeying food additive regulations. They are particular in terms of total turnover and volume of func-
generally new or improved consumer products and services, tional foods sold, it emerges as a business in rapid growth.
and can be focused in one area of food technology, for The rise of functional foods market is mainly due to a series
example process engineering, product formulation, food of critical awareness of personal health. According to a
qualities or consumer needs. Moreover, they have to Euromonitor survey, Japan is the worlds largest market,
combine technological innovation with social and cultural followed by the US, while the European market still ap-
innovation in order to produce food that satisfies the nutri- pears to be less developed. These three dominant markets
tional, personal and social needs of all communities. Inno- contribute to over 90% of the total sales (Benkouider,
vations may occur throughout all parts of the food chain 2005). It is not surprising that in Japan this market is signif-
and a possible classification of the food innovations is the icant due to the fact that it is regarded as the birthplace of
following: (1) new food ingredients and materials, (2) inno- functional food (Hilliam, 2000): only between 1988 and
vations in fresh foods, (3) new food process techniques, (4) 1998, more than 1700 functional food products have been
innovations in food quality, (5) new packaging methods, launched in Japan. As far as the European countries are
and (6) new distribution or retailing methods. concerned, the studies by Bech-Larsen and Scholderer
Among all the innovations introduced in this industry, (2007) and Makinen-Aakula (2006) highlighted that the
researchers recognize functional food as one of the most major markets are the UK, Germany, France and Italy.
interesting areas of research and innovation (Annunziata Van Trijp (2007) emphasized that the European market is
& Vecchio, 2011; Jones & Jew, 2007; Sir o et al., 2008). a heterogeneous one, characterized by large regional differ-
Their relevance is related to the increasing cost of health- ences in use and acceptance of functional foods (e.g., the
care, the steady increase in life expectancy, and the desire interest of consumers in functional food in the Central
of older people for an improved quality of life in their later and Northern European countries is higher than in Mediter-
years (Kotilainen et al., 2006; Robertfroid, 2000a, 2000b). ranean countries). As for Italy, the most important segment
Based on these premises, this study consists of a review of of the functional food market is the one of the so called
scientific articles on the topic of functional food. We health yogurt: according to a research by IRI (2008),
considered both articles published in scholarly journals only in Italy their growth rate was 6.3% per year, thus
and those published on books or proceedings based on in- reaching 560 million euros of sales, corresponding to
ternational conferences. In order to do that, we first carried almost 4% of the whole Italian sector. Several authors
out a computerized search by using functional foods as (e.g., Benkouider, 2005), according also to predictions
keywords in three different databases (ISI Web of Knowl- made periodically by Euromonitor, stressed the moderate
edge, Google Scholar and Scopus). The identified articles growing importance of newly emerging markets such as
were then subjected to a double screening. First of all Hungary, Poland and Russia: although these markets are
120 B. Bigliardi, F. Galati / Trends in Food Science & Technology 31 (2013) 118e129

still undeveloped, in fact, numerous new functional foods temperature, they have relatively short shelf life, etc.).
have been introduced in the last few years. Their success is confirmed by the increasingly extensive
Functional foods have been developed almost in all food research and development concerning probiotics aiming
categories, even if they are not homogeneously distributed to introduce new dairy products (e.g., probiotic drinking
over all segments of the food industry. As a consequence, yogurt like Actimel and Activia, dairy products containing
consumer preferences may vary between markets. Among Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3 like Hellus, etc.) (Sir o
all the food markets, functional foods have been mainly et al., 2008; Szakaly, 2007). As for the prebiotics category,
launched in the dairy-, confectionery, soft-drinks, bakery inulin and oligofructose are amongst the most studied and
and baby-food market (Kotilainen et al., 2006; Menrad, well established (Gibson, 2004). In addition to the objective
2003). The extant literature proposes different classification reported in Table 1, Bosscher, Van Loo, and Franck (2006)
of functional foods. From a product point of view, have shown that prebiotics increase calcium absorption,
Kotilainen et al. (2006), Sloan (2000) and Spence (2006), thus improving bone mineral content and density. Accord-
have proposed the following classification: ing to Lopez-Molina et al. (2005), they also influence the
formation of blood glucose, thus reducing the levels of
 food fortified with additional nutrients (labeled fortified cholesterol and serum lipids. Moreover, prebiotics might
products), such as fruit juices fortified with vitamin C, enhance the growth and survival of the probiotic cultures
vitamin E, folic acid, zinc and calcium; by influencing the growth and metabolites of both the pro-
 food with additional new nutrients or components not biotic and the starter. As far as the functional drinks are
normally found in a particular food (labeled enriched concerned, although they are available in a relatively high
products), like probiotics or prebiotics; number, their market is still small and fragmented, espe-
 food from which a deleterious component has been cially at a European level: only Germany, in fact, has a size-
removed, reduced or replaced by another with beneficial able functional drink market, thanks to the success of ACE
effects (labeled altered products), for example fibers as drinks in this country.
fat releasers in meat or ice cream;
 food in which one of the components have been natu-
rally enhanced (labeled enhanced commodities), e.g., How functional foods have been defined in literature
eggs with increased omega-3 content. The analysis of the extant literature on functional food
highlighted that, although the term functional food has
According to alternative classification based on the aim already been defined several times (Robertfroid, 2002), so
of functional foods, they can be classified as follows (e.g., far there is no unitary accepted definition for this group
Makinen-Aakula, 2006): of food (Alzamora et al., 2005). In most countries
there is no legislative definition of the term and drawing
 functional foods that add good to life or improve chil- a border line between conventional and functional foods
drens life, like prebiotics and probiotics; is challenging even for nutritionists and food experts
 functional foods that reduce an existing health risk prob- (Mark-Herbert, 2004; Niva, 2007). Moreover, the European
lem such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure; legislation does not consider functional food as specific
 functional foods which makes life easier, such as food categories, but rather as a concept (Coppens,
lactose-free or gluten-free products. Fernandes Da Silva, & Pettman, 2006; Stanton, Ross,
Fitzgerald, & Van Sinderen, 2005). To date, a number of
Regardless the classification adopted, it is possible to list national authorities, academic bodies and the industry
the main functional foods as in Table 1. have proposed definitions for functional food. While
Recently, both in Japan and Europe the market of func- some definitions simply suggest that any food, if marketed
tional foods is mainly dominated by probiotics with more with the appropriate positioning, is a functional food
than 370 products launched worldwide in 2005 (Hollingsworth, 1999; Riemersma, 1996), others are more
(Ouwehand, 2007). Within the probiotic field, Lactic acid complex and maintain that only fortified, enriched, or
bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria are the most studied enhanced food with a component having a health benefit
and widely used ones (Kociubinski & Salminen, 2006). beyond basic nutrition can be considered functional foods
As quite recently highlighted by Makinen-Aakula (2006), (Kleinschmidt, 2003).
the main markets of probiotics are Scandinavia, the After reviewing over 1 hundred definitions, 39 were
Netherlands, Switzerland, Croatia and Estonia followed selected on the basis of their representation of functional
by emerging markets such as Greece, France and Spain. foods. The selected definitions are listed in Table 2.
Researchers agree in stating that their success among func- The definitions listed in Table 2 encapsulate all or in part
tional foods is mainly due to their general positive image the following three main concepts:
among consumers (Makinen-Aakula, 2006; Szakaly,
Szigeti, Mathe, & Szente, 2007), but also due to their (1) the concept of health benefits: almost all definitions
intrinsic characteristics (the products kept at cold (35 out of 39) mention the health benefits that a food
B. Bigliardi, F. Galati / Trends in Food Science & Technology 31 (2013) 118e129 121

Table 1. The main type of functional foods available on the market.

Type of functional food and Objective Example Main references

Probiotics Influence on human health, Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) Alzamora et al. (2005), Jones and
live microorganisms, as they are including influence on and bifidobacteria. Jew (2007) and Saarela,
consumed in adequate numbers gastrointestinal health, Lahteenmaki, Crittenden,
confer a health benefit on the host immune function and Salminen, and
Charalampopoulos, Pandiella, and cancer (Jones & Jew, 2007). Mattila-Sandholm (2002).
Webb (2003)
Prebiotics To stimulate the growth Fructo-oligosaccharide Bosscher (2007), Bosscher et al.
non-digestible food ingredients and/or activity of one or a (FOS), inulin, isomalto- (2006), Cani, Neyrinck, Maton,
that beneficially affect the host by limited number of bacteria oligosaccharides (IMO), and Delzenne (2005) and
stimulating the growth and/or in the colon, thus improving polydextrose, lactulose and Ouwehand (2007).
activity of one or a limited number host health (Stanton et al., resistant starch.
of bacteria in the colon 2005).
Charalampopoulos et al. (2003)
Functional drinks To reduce the cholesterol ACE drinks, cholesterol- Keller (2006) and Tammsaar
non-alcoholic beverages fortified level, to stimulate the lowering drinks, eye (2007).
with vitamins A, C and E or other antioxidant function and to health drinks or bone
functional ingredients avoid the inhibition of health drinks.
Menrad (2003) and Side (2006) growth and the deformation
of the bones (Tammsaar,
Functional cereals Fermentable substrates for Oat, barley, rye, spelt. Alldrick (2007), Benkouider
Cereals containing dietary fiber, the growth of probiotic (2005), Monar (2007) and
such as b-glucan and microorganisms, sources of Poutanen (2006).
arabinoxylan, oilgosaccharides, non-digestible
such as galacto- and fructo- carbohydrates, stimulator of
oligosaccharides and resistant the growth of lactobacilli
starch and bifidobacteria present
Oatles and Cagindi (2006) in the colon (Brennan &
Cleary, 2005;
Charalampopoulos, Wang,
Pandiella, & Webb, 2002).
Functional meat To reformulate the fatty acid Meat with the control of the Jimenez-Colmenero, Carballo, and
meat modified by adding profiles or inclusion of composition of raw and Cofrades (2001), Kovacs,
ingredients considered beneficial antioxidants, dietary fiber or processed materials. Zsarnoczay, and Gasparik
for health or by eliminating or probiotics (Sir
o et al., Reichardt (2007), Mendoza,
reducing components that are 2008). Garca, Casas, and Selgas (2001)
considered harmful and Ricondo and Ayo (2007).
Bhat and Bhat (2011)
Functional eggs To reduce the possible Egg enriched with omega-3 Sir
o et al. (2008) and Surai and
eggs with increased omega-3 fatty formation of blood clots and fatty acids simultaneously Sparks (2001).
acid content for blood pressure control with antioxidants and other
o et al. (2008) (Sir
o et al., 2008). vitamins.

have to bring to its consumer in order to be labeled as Nutritional function

functional food. Thus, this concept appears to be cen- The term nutritional functions refers to the role of nu-
tral in functional foods literature; trients in growth, development and maintaining the organs
(2) the technological process at the basis of the functional and systems of the human body. Therefore, it is possible to
food: some definitions (18 out of 39) stress the fact that state that the basic functions of a food are to provide vita-
the food must have been fortified, enriched or had an mins, minerals and energy derived from the proteins, carbo-
ingredient added, while others mention the removal of hydrates and lipids required for the well-being of the
allergens or of components considered detrimental to human body. Today, as stressed by Ashwell (2003), the
the health if over consumed (e.g., salt, sugar); focus of nutritional science is shifting toward the concept
(3) the nutritional function: all food to be functional must of optimal nutrition. In other words, the objective of nutri-
have some nutritional functions, as pointed out by 25 tional science is to optimize the daily diet in terms of
definitions out of the total. nutrients and non-nutrients, as well as other food properties
that provide the maintenance health. The above
What follows are the three detailed concepts according mentioned shift is mainly motivated by an increase in
to the articles reviewed. lifestyle related diseases, combined with constantly rising
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Table 2. The main definition of functional foods.

No. Definition References Main concepts

Nutritional Health Technological
function benefits process
1 Foods which are expected to have certain health FOSHU, by the Japanese #
benefits, and have been licensed to bear a label Ministry of Health, Labor
claiming that a person using them for specified and Welfare (1991), cited in
health use may expect to obtain the health use Anon. (2003)
through the consumption thereof
2 Food that encompasses potentially helpful Food and Nutrition Board # #
products, including any modified food or food (1994)
ingredient that may provide a health benefit
beyond that of the traditional nutrient it contains
3 Food and drink products derived from naturally Hillian (1995), cited in # # #
occurring substances consumed as part of the Robertfroid (2002)
daily diet and possessing particular physiological
benefits when ingested
4 Foods that may provide health benefits beyond IFIC Foundation (1995, # #
basic nutrition 2006: p. 4)
5 Foods or food products marketed with the Riemersma (1996) #
message of the benefit to health
6 Food derived from naturally occurring Smith, Marcotte, and # #
substances, which can and should be consumed Harman (1996)
as part of the daily diet and which serves to
regulate or otherwise affect a particular body
process when ingested
7 Food similar in appearance to conventional Health Canada (1997) # #
food, which is consumed as part of the usual diet
and has demonstrated physiological benefit and/
or reduces the risk of chronic disease beyond
basic nutritional functions
8 Modified foods or food ingredients that provide Adelaja and Schilling # #
health benefits beyond their traditional nutrients (1999)
9 Foods with added ingredients that claim to Center for Science in the # #
provide a health benefit to consumers beyond the Public Interest (1999: p. 55)
benefits provided by ordinary foods themselves
10 A food product can only be considered Diplock et al. (1999) # # #
functional if together with the basic nutritional
impact it has beneficial effects on one or more
functions of the human organism thus either
improving the general and physical conditions or/
and decreasing the risk of the evolution of
diseases. The amount of intake and form of the
functional food should be as it is normally
expected for dietary purposes. Therefore, it could
not be in the form of pill or capsule just as normal
food form
11 Functional foods are products formulated with General Accounting Office # # #
naturally occurring chemicals (or combination of (2000: p. 47)
chemicals) e found in many fruits, vegetables,
grains, herbs and spices e to provide a health
benefit, to reduce the risk of certain diseases, or
to affect a particular body process. They go
beyond correcting diseases such as pellagra and
scurvy, caused by nutritional deficiencies.
Functional foods are akin to novel macro
ingredients in that their formulation is intended to
provide a health benefit to consumers. However,
functional foods are designed to reduce the risk
of specific diseases such as lung cancer by
removing certain ingredients, by adding or
combining ingredients not normally found in a
food product, or by concentrating substances in
higher than usual quantities
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Table 2 (continued )
No. Definition References Main concepts
Nutritional Health Technological
function benefits process
12 Foods that, by virtue of physiologically active Hasler (2000) # # #
components, provide benefits beyond basic
nutrition and may prevent disease or promote
13 Food in which ingredients with an additional Hilliam (2000) #
health value have been added and this is
announced to the consumers
14 A food is functional if a health claim Iowa State University (2000: #
can be made p. 2)
15 Foods or food components that may have health National Institute of #
benefits that reduce the risk of specific diseases or Nutrition (2000: p. 4)
other health concerns
16 Food product that looks like conventional food Wilson (2001) # #
but that is demonstrated to have physiological
benefits and/or to reduce the risk of chronic
disease beyond basic nutritional functions
17 A food that is a food and not a drug, that is part Lajolo (2002) # #
of a normal diet and that can produce benefits
beyond basic nutrition
18 A natural food to which a component has been Robertfroid (2002) #
added and from which a component has been
removed, where the nature of one or more
components has been modified, in which the
bioavailability of one or more components have
been modified
19 Foods derived from naturally occurring Robertfroid (2002) # # #
substances, which can and should be consumed
as part of the daily diet and which serves to
regulate or otherwise affect a particular body
process when ingested
20 Any food for which a health claim can be made Weststrate, van Poppel, and #
is a functional food Verschuren (2002)
21 They are foods which can be part of our Agriculture, Food and Rural # #
everyday diet but which have properties that Development (2003: p. 2)
provide an additional health benefit
22 Functional foods help primarily for the supply of Anonymous (2003: p. 72) # # #
nutrients, but additionally they offer a special
advantage for the health
23 Food similar in appearance to conventional food Bech-Larsen and Grunert # #
that is intended to be consumed as part of a (2003)
normal diet, but has been modified to have
physiological roles beyond the provision of
simple nutrient requirements
24 Foodstuffs mostly similar in appearance to Jansen and Krijger (2003) # # #
conventional foods that fit daily in the diet and
consumption pattern but that, in addition to their
basic nutritional value, contain specific additives
or properties achieved by processing or otherwise
for which a physiological/health benefit beyond
basic nutrition is claimed
25 A whole food (as opposed to pills, powders, or Kleinschmidt (2003) # # #
supplements) that is fortified, enriched, or
enhanced with a component having a health
benefit beyond basic nutrition
26 Foods that encompass potentially healthful National Academy of # # #
products, including any modified food or food Sciences, USA (cited in
ingredient that may provide a health benefit Anonymous, 2003, p. 72)
beyond the traditional nutrients it contains
(continued on next page)
124 B. Bigliardi, F. Galati / Trends in Food Science & Technology 31 (2013) 118e129

Table 2 (continued)
No. Definition References Main concepts
Nutritional Health Technological
function benefits process
27 Foods that may be eaten regularly as part of a CSIRO Human Nutrition # #
normal diet, that have been designed specifically (2004)
to provide a physiological or medical benefit by
regulating body functions to protect against or
retard the progression of diseases such as
coronary heart disease, cancer, hypertension,
diabetes and osteoporosis
28 Foods that, in addition to supply known Egg Nutrition Center (2004) # #
nutrients, can provide other health benefits
as well
29 A food or a part of a food which provides Scholey (2004) #
medical or health benefits
30 A functional food is a conventional food or a Health Canada (2006) # #
food similar in appearance to a conventional
food, it is part of a regular diet, that has health-
related benefits and (or) reduces the risk of
specific chronic diseases above its basic
nutritional functions
31 Any food or food ingredient that might provide a Rakic, Povrenovic, Tesevic, # #
health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it Simic, and Maletic (2006)
32 Any substances that is a food or part of a food DeFelice (2007) #
that provides medical and/or health benefits,
including the prevention and treatment of
33 A food that contains added, technologically Niva (2007) # #
developed ingredients with a specific health
34 A functional food is, or appears similar to, a Doyon and Labrecque # #
conventional food. It is part of a standard diet and (2008)
is consumed on a regular basis, in normal
quantities. It has proven health benefits that
reduce the risk of specific chronic diseases or
beneficially affect target functions beyond its
basic nutritional functions
35 A food can be regarded as functional if it is Doyon and Labrecque # #
satisfactorily demonstrated to affect beneficially (2008)
one or more target functions in the body, beyond
adequate nutritional effects, in a way that is
relevant to either improved state of health and
well-being and/or reduction of risk of disease
36 Food which has a demonstrated benefit for one Plaza, Cifuentes, and #
or more functions of the human organism, Ibanez (2008)
improving the state of health or well-being or
reducing the risk of disease
37 Food products fortified with special constituents Sir
o et al. (2008) # #
that possess advantageous physiological effects
38 Whole foods and fortified, enriched, or Hasler et al. (2009) # # #
enhanced foods that have a potentially beneficial
effect on health when consumed as part of a
varied diet on a regular basis, at effective levels
39 Foods that with their specific health effects Ballali and Lanciai (2012) # #
could, in the future, indicate a new mode of
thinking about the relationships between food
and health in everyday life
B. Bigliardi, F. Galati / Trends in Food Science & Technology 31 (2013) 118e129 125

healthcare costs. Moreover, demographic changes, among  claim related factors: Ares et al. (2009), Lynam,
which the aging of the population in most developed coun- McKevitt, and Gibney (2011) and Verbeke et al.
tries, the higher life expectancy and the desire for an (2009), identified the type of the expected benefits and
improved quality of life, have stimulated research to iden- the country of the respondents as the main factors that
tify or produce food with nutritional functions. People enable a deeper impact on consumers choice of a func-
can use functional foods to fill in certain nutritional gaps tional food. They also considered the length of the
left by intolerances, strict diets or personal preferences. claims, stating that consumers usually prefer short
For example, those who are lactose intolerant can drink cal- claims, while Grunert et al. (2009) found two different
cium fortified orange juice, those who are vegetarians can consumers behaviors toward health claims: those who
indulge in soy-based products for protein, and those who prefer a short set of information and those who preferred
dislike seafood can get omega-3s from enriched eggs or a longer one. Another relevant factor that emerged from
pasta. According to Hasler, Brown and American Dietetic the literature is familiarity: the use of a component that
Association (2009), examples of functional foods with is already widely marketed with health-related argu-
nutritional or dietary function are infant foods, hypoaller- ments seems to create a better perception than a new
genic foods (such as gluten-free foods or lactose-free component (Lahteenmaki et al., 2010; van Trijp & van
foods), and weight-loss foods. der Lans, 2007).
To better define the boundaries of functional food, it is  product related factors: the acceptation of health claims
important to distinguish between nutritional deficiency and is certainly higher when they are referred to products
other physiological effects such as disease risk reduction. that are already considered as having a healthy image
However, all food have some nutritional functions: accord- (Dean et al., 2007, 2012; Siegrist, Stampfli, &
ing to the definitions selected, what makes a food functional Kastenholz, 2008). Consumers tend to prefer foods
is also the benefits beyond its basic nutritional functions. that are perceived as natural (Rozin et al., 2004) and
Thus, a food that improves nutritional equilibrium should any new ingredients may decrease the naturalness
not be considered, on that unique basis, a functional food. perceived by customers (Lahteenmaki et al., 2010).
Moreover, several studies have demonstrated the unwill-
Health benefits ingness of the consumers to compromise taste for health
A growing number of consumers are becoming aware of benefits (Lyly, Roininen, Honkapaa, Poutanen, &
functional foods with hopes of reaping additional health Lahteenmaki, 2007; Steptoe, Pollard, & Wardle, 1995;
benefits that may reduce certain disease risks or promote Verbeke, 2005).
optimal wellness. A number of health benefits are related  consumer related factors: De Jong, Ocke, Branderhorst,
to functional food. According to the study of van Kleef, and Friele (2003) suggested that women tend to have a
van Trijp, and Luning (2005) and the classification of func- higher preference for products with related health
tional foods proposed by Makinen-Aakula (2006), health claims, while Urala and Lahteenmaki (2007) found no
benefits may be grouped in three main classes: direct health evidences of gender differences. Other authors (e.g.,
benefits, reduction of risk diseases and better life condi- Ares & Gambaro, 2007), stated that the benefits that
tions. Examples of health benefits are those reported in are gender dependent are also perceived more positively
Table 1 referred to the main types of functional foods avail- by the relevant gender. In demographic terms, the most
able on the market. Some of the definitions listed in important factor seems to be the difference between
Table 2, indicate that if a health claim can be made, a countries (Saba et al., 2010). Another important factor
food is functional. Health claims consist, traditionally, in affecting the effectiveness of health claims is lifestyle
front-of-package information, which link the product with (Szakaly, Szente, Kover, Polereczki, & Szigeti, 2012).
specific health-related functions (Lahteenmaki, 2013).
Generally, it is illegal to give consumers misleading infor-
mation about products, thus in many countries the use of Technological process
this particular kind of claims is governed by additional spe- In his work, Betoret, Betoret, Vidal, and Fito (2011),
cific legislation and regulations (Lalor & Wall, 2011). Con- reviewed the technologies trends of functional foods devel-
sumer responses to health claims have been analyzed in opment, identifying three different groups:
several studies (Annunziata & Vecchio, 2013; Ares,
Gimenez, & Gambaro, 2009; Lahteenmaki, 2013;  technologies traditionally used in food processing.
Verbeke, Scholderer, & Lahteenmaki, 2009), all aiming to Formulation and blending constitutes a simple, cheap
measure the perceived healthiness or benefits, convincing- and adaptive technology to develop new functional
ness or credibility of the claim and the consumer under- food and, its use in the development, has a long history
standing of the claim itself. in the successful control of deficiencies of vitamins A
Following the structure adopted by Lahteenmaki (2013), and D, several B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin and
it is possible to divide the topic of health claims in three niacin), iodine and iron (Betoret et al., 2011). In more
different level of analysis: recent years, the growing importance of dietary
126 B. Bigliardi, F. Galati / Trends in Food Science & Technology 31 (2013) 118e129

compounds and the related health benefits offered an provide industry partners with robust information on
excellent opportunity to improve public health, and market trends and potential. However, it is possible to stress
thus this food products category received greater atten- that development and changes in society as well as socio-
tion from the scientific community, consumers and demographic trends are in favor of functional food. Conse-
food manufacturers (Karaaslan, Ozden, Vardin, & quently it can be assumed that these products represent a
Turkoglu, 2011; Kim et al., 2010). Other possibilities sustainable trend in the food market. In particular, the func-
come from agriculture and livestock, which provide tional food market is growing worldwide, as demonstrated
the primary source of the nutrients required by humans by the fact that new functional products are being launched
(Zhao & Shewry, 2011), as well as from biotechnology continuously. As a consequence, competition in this field is
and animal breeding, which offer the possibility to becoming more and more intense. To survive such a
obtain improved food products (Laible, 2009; competition, a functional food product needs to be bought
Matsushita et al., 2007; Zhu et al., 2008). repeatedly, and therefore it has to be developed considering
 technologies designed to prevent the deterioration of consumers needs. Therefore, we believe that consumer
physiologically active compounds. The most debated in research is crucial in the development of functional food
scientific literature are: and requires further development and research.
microencapsulation, that consists in the envelopment of From the review of the main definitions proposed in
small solid particles, liquid droplets or gases in a literature, it is possible to link the key concepts proposed
coating, based on the embedding effects of a polymeric (health, technology and nutrition) with the main players
matrix (Betoret et al., 2011); that are involved in functional food research and develop-
edible films and coatings that describe any type of ma- ment process, namely: the food technologist, the nutri-
terial used for enrobing various food to extend the shelf tionist and the specialist (Fig. 1). The combination of
life of the product that may be eaten with food (Pavlath skills owned by these different actors is essential for the
& Orts, 2009). This have the high potential to carry development of innovative products and particularly for
active ingredients that can reduce the risk of pathogen the development of functional food. This have to present
growth on the food surface and provide specific nutri- higher quality standards compared (by an organoleptic
ents (Betoret et al., 2011); point of view) to the corresponding conventional products
vacuum impregnation, considered a useful way to intro- and aim at the maintenance of well-being.
duce desirable solutes into the porous structure of The same concepts also reflect the developments and
foods, modifying their original composition changes of the scientific paradigm in nutritional sciences,
(Watanabe, Yoshimoto, Okada, & Nomura, 2011). the relationship between nutritional factors and the occur-
 recent technologies aimed to design personalized func- rence and prevention of specific diseases, the increasing
tional foods. Nutrigenomics considers the interaction be-
tween foods and an individuals genome, and the
consequent downstream effect on their phenotype,
recognizing that an appropriate dietary advice for one
individual may be inappropriate to another (Ferguson,
Philpott, & Barnett, 2010). This innovative science can
offer a wide window of opportunities in the area of func-
tional foods, but it is still in its infancy stage and there
are many aspects not well clarified yet (Penders, SPECIALIST NUTRITIONIST
Horstman, Saris, & Vos, 2007; Ronteltap, van Trijp, Health benefits, Nutritional functions
physiologic markers,
Renes, & Frewer, 2007). Moreover, to date, there are pathogenic
only sporadic examples of clinical trials utilizing these mechanisms
technologies, thus there is a considerable number of is-
sues to be addressed before genomic approach can
become an acceptable method to guide food develop-
ment or nutritional recommendations (Betoret et al.,
2011; Kaput & Dawson, 2007).
Future trends and conclusion Raw materials, ingredients
The development of functional foods appears to be a Technological process
long-term trend with important market potential, where in-
formation flows generated by research are needed to sup-
port private investments, consumption decisions and
government regulations. According to the literature exam- Fig. 1. The three main actors involved in the research and development
ined, various definitions exist, thus making it difficult to process to obtain a functional food.
B. Bigliardi, F. Galati / Trends in Food Science & Technology 31 (2013) 118e129 127

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