The humble egg has long been known to have a number of beneficial properties. The last couple of decades have seen the benefits contained within the humble shell increase – think omega-3.

But is there really a future for this type of product? Unless you are a fan of ostrich eggs, most consumers buy eggs in volume, and in such cases, the value of the individual item tends to be overlooked.

Yet according to a study from Leatherhead Food Research in the UK, the future for functional foods is positive. Leatherhead reports that the global market for functional foods was worth US$24.2 billion last year and has increased in value by 1.5% since 2003.

Driving demand 

So what is driving this healthy demand for functional foods? Various factors appear to be coming into play.

On the one hand, there are changes in consumer diets, lifestyles, awareness and interest in their own health and well-being. These are important factors in creating demand-pull for products with the potential to deliver beneficial health outcomes.

But there are also important supply factors. Expanding scientific knowledge and technological capability, particularly ingredient exploration and development, has led to increased production innovation.

Ever-greater production efficiencies in the poultry industries mean that alongside growing consumer demand, the industry has been able to keep prices affordable.

Leatherhead notes that the number of new product introductions across food types has been growing by approximately 28% annually, and that the diversity of claims and suggested health benefits have also been diversifying.

Looking ahead over the next decade, what else might be getting from our breakfast eggs? Food for thought.