Functional ingredients, the stars of food innovation

Andrés Gavilán, presidente de AFCAAndrés Gavilán, President of AFCA (Spanish acronym for the Spanish Association of Food Additive Manufacturers and Distributors)

Functional ingredients are the real stars of food innovation and the building blocks that make it possible to put together foods with healthy properties. Why? In addition to contributing to a healthy diet, they provide nutrients and other substances containing healthy properties that support consumer health and wellbeing. More than 260 health claims are now allowed.

Based on Regulation (EC) 1924/2006, functional ingredients can be described as substances in specific foods which help provide health benefits when consumed in certain amounts and under particular conditions. The benefits may be physiological benefits, health benefits provided by ‘new science', reduced risk of particular diseases and improvements in children's development and health.

Positive business impact

Along with the health benefits provided by functional ingredients and foods, it is also worth noting the significant financial success they have achieved, with sustained 10–15% growth in sales of this type of product. This has led many food and drinks companies to implement strong, dynamic R&D&I policies, focusing more heavily on technological innovation in foods to boost their economic and sales performance.

This has improved the performance of functional ingredients and foods not only in Spain, but also in the rest of the European Union and especially in rapidly growing markets such as Eastern Europe, Africa, Arab countries, India, Japan, China, Russia, USA and Latin America.


Prototypical functional foods provide sustenance and offer added value through healthy properties in the form of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and other new substances. The effects are highly beneficial for gastrointestinal health, cellular aging, improving cardiovascular diseases, promoting healthy skin, hair and bone tissue, preventing free radical formation, suppressing appetite and countless other health benefits for consumers.  

These strengths are behind the growth and expansion of the functional foods industry. In fact, today we simply do not see a sales ceiling for these types of nutraceutical or cosmeceutical foods, or whatever we may choose to call them.

Widely accepted

Essentially, functional ingredients and foods owe their attraction and success to the presence of certain types of chemical molecules. Due to their nature and properties, these molecules can provide health benefits when consumed on a regular basis over a given period of time, in certain amounts and under particular conditions. We must remember that only regular consumption of functional ingredients and/or foods will provide health benefits for the human organism.

The number of functional ingredients on the market is increasing at an unstoppable rate. The key to success is for the healthy properties selected for the particular substance and food in which they are used to be as innovative and beneficial as possible. The ideal method is to add functional ingredients that offer several health benefits. This is known as polyfunctionality. 

All of the above is undoubtedly also helped by a well targeted advertising campaign which is truthful, modern, transparent, direct, convincing and imaginative, in short, capable of building customer loyalty. The product should also have attractive, original and novel packaging supported by striking and innovative phrases, graphics and advertising slogans on the label.

Follow us

Interested in Alimentaria Foodtech?

Contact us

If you want to exhibit:


If you want to visit:


Press releases

All the news and updates regarding the trade show.

Access >>>