Functional health ingredients fail to take off in confectionery - Leatherhead

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Functional health ingredients fail to take off in confectionery - Leatherhead

Related tags: Global confectionery market, Fatty acid, Nutrition

Functional health ingredients have failed to move into mainstream confectionery and have not penetrated the market as expected, according to a report from Leatherhead Food Research.

In its recent 'Innovations in the Global Confectionery Market'​ report​, Leatherhead estimated that the global functional confectionery market had grown 38% since 2006 to $11bn.

However, Leatherhead noted that the functional sector only accounted for 8% of the global confectionery market in value terms and headway had not been made as it had been in other industries such as dairy and bakery.

Functional confectionery lags

“Confectionery products featuring functional health ingredients such as omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics remain thin on the ground, which suggests that these products remain niche and have yet to move into the mainstream,” ​said the report. 

leather graph

Leatherhead said that products with digestive and heart health benefits had emerged, but not to the extent the industry had anticipated.

Products posing as functional

The research organisation warned that the number of products positioned as functional confectionery could boost the value of the sector, but had been excluded from Leatherhead’s figures.

“Obtaining a precise definition for the market is complicated. Some products are positioned within the functional arena whilst not actually containing recognised functional health ingredients – for example, chocolate is increasingly being marketed according to its high antioxidant properties, as well as its ability to stimulate endorphins,“​ it said.

wrigley functional
Chewing gum accounts for 90% of functional confectionery with Wrigley leading the way

Market make-up

Sugar confectionery and chewing gum account for 90% of the world functional confectionery market with medicated confectionery and fortified gums from the likes of Wrigley leading the way, said the report.

Leatherhead pointed to a 2009 study from the University of Ghent that claimed probiotics had a stronger potential in chocolate than in dairy products. However, it said there had been few entrants into the category and it remained to be seen whether this category would develop.


The report continued that functional confectionery innovation emanated in Japan, a market worth over $1bn per annum.

It added that the US, Germany, Spain and the UK had strong markets for functional products.

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