Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals
Consumers are increasingly interested in the health benefits of foods and have begun to look beyond the basic nutritional benefits to the potential disease prevention and health enhancing compounds contained in many foods. This interest combined with a more widespread understanding of how diet affects disease, rising health-care costs and an aging population are driving a growing and robust market for functional foods and natural health products.
Functional foods and nutraceuticals provide an opportunity to improve the health of Canadians, reduce health care costs and support economic development in rural communities. They also offer a way for some producers to diversify their agriculture and marine-based crops. According to market statistics, the global functional food and nutraceutical market is growing at a rate that is outpacing the traditional processed food market.
Canada has emerged as a leading world supplier in this growing market. The country boasts more than 300 companies - from small start-ups to multinational enterprises. Many are internationally recognized for their bioactive ingredients, such as soluble fibre from oats, barley and pulses; omega-3 fatty acids from fish and flax oil; unsaturated fatty acids from canola oil; plant sterols and stanols from vegetable oils; and protein from soy. Industry is also interested in incorporating into food products functional ingredients, such as probiotic bacterial cultures; prebiotics (e.g. fructo-oligosaccharides) from corn; bioactives concentrated from berries and flax; and novel fibres from pulses. Key success factors include Canada's world-class research into the health benefits of foods and bioactives, occuring at universities, government research labs and institutes, as well as innovations in ingredients, technologies, packaging and formulations occuring at food technology centres and contract manufacturing firms.
Regulating the industry is important to maintain the high standard of food safety and quality that Canadians expect, while allowing the industry to innovate and market new products. The Food Regulatory Issues Division provides information and advice to help industry navigate the regulations for functional foods and for other innovative foods with health benefits.
The following information will make it easier for the functional food and nutraceutical industry to explore market, partnership and research opportunities. It will also point to conferences and other industry events. Although this website is created as a tool for industry, it also contains information that will help the general public better understand the sector.
- What are Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals?
- Fact Sheets
- AAFC's Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals Section
- Canadian Health NGO's Perceptions of the Food/Health Interface
- Calculating Potential Health Care-Cost Savings Associated with Functional Foods
- Results from the Functional Foods and Natural Health Products Survey - 2007 (Statistics Canada)
- Information for the Public