The functional food and drinks market is expected to continue to grow over the next five years, but at a slowing rate, according to a report by market intelligence firm Key Note.

The functional foods report, published today (23 June), revealed that the major issue in food and drink development and manufacturing remains health, boosted by the threat posed by the rising level of obesity.

Yet the inclusion of several functional elements in food products has reportedly proved confusing to consumers and some products are now being withdrawn or relaunched.

Moreover, those products not approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will not be allowed in promotions within the EU until they are modified or better scientific evidence is provided, the report noted.

This factor, together with the recession, which has caused consumers to question purchases of premium-priced branded foods and drinks, has had a negative impact on the functional-foods market, Key Note revealed.

However, the report states that the continued emphasis in the UK on healthier eating, and the fact that many functional foods are targeted at age-related health conditions, will sustain future growth in sales of functional foods.

Key Note predicts that the value of the functional food and beverage market will rise from GBP1.55bn in 2009/2010 to GBP1.9bn in 2013/2014, with fortified breakfast cereals and probiotic yoghurts contributing to most of that growth.