The Enduring Interest in Functional Benefits

September 2020

Naturally, the pandemic has people reflecting on ways they can improve their health, beginning with eating habits. While the demand for immunity-boosting foods was prevalent pre-COVID, the demand since the pandemic has continued to grow. According to Datassential, 85% of people have maintained their interest in functional foods, and more than half wish immunity-boosting foods/ingredients were offered when dining out. Additionally, based on data from Google Trends, searches for the combined terms “food” and “immune system” increased by 670% between February and March of this year.


It’s more than just interest—sales of functional foods have skyrocketed, too. In February 2020, global sales of functional foods topped $267 billion, and naturally healthy food sales were $259 billion during the same period. Beneo, a company that supplies functional ingredients, reported that 75% of people were looking for better-for-you food and drinks because of the coronavirus.


Functional foods go beyond the basic requirement of satisfying hunger to provide diners with valuable health benefits. To that end, people are eating with specific goals in mind. More than half of consumers are looking to up their intake of fiber, protein, vitamin D and calcium, while more than 40% are adding antioxidants, omega-3s and probiotics to their diet.


Functional foods can also be a solution for various conditions, as nearly 60% of consumers say they use them to treat or prevent a specific condition, including general prevention efforts.


Turkey is a great way to raise the nutritional profile of recipes. It’s high in B vitamins, and B6 in particular keeps the immune system strong. It’s also a great source of iron, which additionally helps the body defend itself. Plus, this better-for-you protein goes a long way, as an insufficient amount of protein in a diet can lead to symptoms of weakness, fatigue, apathy and poor immunity. While enjoying a flavorful meal is a great experience for customers, it’s worth it to consider ingredients with advantages that outlast their meal.


“Health is wealth” rings even more true when you’re serving diners throughout a pandemic. To learn more about turkey, check out our infographic on the functional benefits of turkey.


Does your menu offer functional benefits? Give us the lowdown on Facebook or LinkedIn. If you’re interested in more industry trends, have a look at our Resource Center.



COVID-19 Report 27: Finding Our Way, Datassential, June 2020.

Demerrit, Laurie. The role of functional food and beverage in the era of COVID-19, SmartBrief, August 2020.

Ewing-Chow, Daphne. The Latest Trends in Immunity-Boosting: What Works And What Doesn’t, Forbes, July 2020.

Functional Benefits of Turkey, Butterball Foodservice, 2019.

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