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Foods that do more

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Today’s consumers are increasingly looking for a quick fix when it comes to their diet. The latest crop of superfoods promise just that with their superior concentrations of valuable minerals, vitamins and micro-nutrients. Harnessing their healthy credentials in a range of easy-to-use products is the secret to success of Func Food Group.

“The market for sports nutrition, functional foods and nutritional supplements is growing rapidly on the back of a growing awareness of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle,” says Managing Director Robin Lybeck.

Also one must not be on a fitness regime in order to maintain a well-balanced diet as part of a healthy lifestyle – one reason, sales of Func Food Group’s products are on the rise. “There is huge growth in our market,” notes Mr. Lybeck. “We are fortunate to have entered at a relatively early stage in the functional food trend and, thanks to our continually evolving portfolio of health products, have long been recognized as the market leader with a high degree of market penetration and brand recognition.”

Func Food Group actually has several different brands in its portfolio. These have been built up over the years through a combination of organic growth and, more recently, acquisitions. “Our original brand is Fast which was first established as a sports nutrition brand for the Finnish market in 1998,” explains Mr. Lybeck. “We entered the Finnish retail market in the early 2000s and embarked on a long period of growth that has seen us become the market leader in a number of key segments.”

One of the most important of these is the market for protein bars. These are marketed to various different target groups depending on consumers’ needs. “Our protein bars are formulated to help people achieve their goals and maximize their performance while satisfying them with a delicious-tasting product,” says Mr. Lybeck. “They are offered in a range of different flavours and produced in Europe from the highest quality ingredients we can source.”

The Fast brand also covers protein powders, high-protein puddings, dietary supplements and protein drinks. The range includes products that cater to special diets with allergen-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, dairy-free, vegan and low lactose products.

“We are looking at innovations and trends which provide people with easy-to use alternatives for a wellness lifestyle, respectively diet,” says Mr. Lybeck. These products can be used to aid weight gain in sports people looking to add muscle or as a weight control product for those looking to lose weight through exercise.

Having successfully become established in Finland’s sports nutrition market with its Fast brand, Func Food Group decided to move into the superfoods market with the acquisition of the CocoVi brand in 2014. CocoVi takes its name from the virgin coconut oil that became the first product in its range.

Coconut oil is credited with having many health benefits and has exploded in popularity in recent years. It has been joined in the CocoVi range by numerous other foodstuffs that have been given superfood status thanks to their high concentrations of nutrients that have been shown to have a beneficial effect on certain physical conditions.

“We will follow the guidelines of any EU legislation or that of the local markets where we operate and we will not make claims beyond those. Fact is that superfoods are gaining more and more attention,” says Mr. Lybeck. “They cannot be seen as a cure-all but they can help in other ways.”

Other superfoods in the range include products made from chia seeds, goji berries, acai berries, hempseed and mulberries to mention just a few. The range covers ready-to-eat snacks as well as prepared ingredients that make it easier to add these nutrition powerhouses to the diet.

In 2015, Func Food added People’s Choice AB to the group, bringing Celsius performance drinks into a portfolio that is completed by its brands FitFarm and Freddy. “We are currently in the process of building a one-company culture that will help us coordinate our activities across the various product categories,” says Mr. Lybeck. “Just two years ago, we brought everything under one roof. We are on a journey from being a locally-based player to becoming one big company with the power to reach a much wider market.”

While Func Food Group is the market leader in Finland and already has a strong presence as leader in functional beverages in Sweden, it has its sights set on markets further afield. Besides improving sales to Sweden, it wants to increase its sales in other national markets and is not shutting out the possibility of a wider geographic footprint in the future.

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