The world leader in functional foods, Japan, now has a market for this category that is estimated to be worth between ¥1trn and ¥1.3trn (US$11.9bn).

According to an estimate by Suntory Ltd, the domestic market for health/functional foods is now worth ¥1.3trn a year. The market segment for FOSHU [Foods for Specified Health Use] for which producers are required to have a license issued by the Health Ministry in order to advertise their health benefits, was worth ¥5.7bn in 2003. The size of the FOSHU market has more than quadrupled since 1997.

It has been 13 years since Japan’s Specified Health Food system was launched, basically defining what constitutes the functional food market category.