EU scrutiny of functional foods

Related tags European union

The Functional foods market in Europe is a strong sector that
commentators say is expanding at a rapid rate. This has led many
food producers to look for innovative ways to make food healthy
when creating a new product. And in particular this has been a
present trend in the dairy market.

Last week the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) staged a consultation process where comments were passed that were submitted to the European Commission. This will have an effect on the EU's decision making when it comes to limiting and regulating the quantity of vitamins and minerals that may be added to foods such as breakfast cereals and dairy products.

These regulations are due to come into effect next year and the FSAI in its consultation process concluded that EU measures could result in greater consumer safety. But some in the industry fear that the proposal will weaken the sales of functional foods in the European market.

Functional food represents a small percentage of the total food supply, but statistics suggest it is growing rapidly. Datamonitor estimates the global market - including food supplements - to be €73 billion in 2000, and growing by 16 per cent per year.

The European market for functional foods is estimated to grow at 6.8 per cent annually.Dairy-based functional foods sales are estimated at generating €3.9 billion which makes it the largest product group for functional foods.

In 2003, the total European probiotics market was estimated to be worth €34.6 million and this figure is expected to triple by 2010. This would mean dairy functional foods would stand at €118.5 by this time, according to data from Frost and Sullivan.

Cereal products sales in Europe are estimated at being €2.5 billion, and major confectionery products and soft drinks make up a large sector of the functional food market. The supplement industry as a whole in Europe is estimated at being worth €45 million, it employs 1,000 people.

The EU's Scientific Committee on food will advise the Commission on safe levels on vitamins and minerals. A particular part of this will be taking into account the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals in food.

The FSAI is asking all interested parties to submit their views on the regulation by the end of January.

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