Consumer interest in the relationship between diet and health has increased substantially, and in turn, functional foods and foods that promote wellbeing are gaining greater positioning within the health and medicines market. The functional foods industry has experienced growth in Australia, with an approximate market value of more than AU$470 million.
Functional foods are similar to conventional foods, but provide a demonstrated physiological benefit or reduction in the risk of chronic disease, above and beyond the traditional function. These can include omega 3 fatty acids, dietary fibre such as beta-glucan, phytochemicals, antioxidants, probiotics and various other biologically active substances. The bioactive ingredients in these functional foods may be naturally occurring, added to the food or their activity increased during processing.
Due to Australia's commitment to quality and safety, investment in innovation, collaboration between industry and government, and well-established food industry, the country's functional food industry is well positioned to develop for domestic and export markets.
Similarly, Queensland’s biodiversity, wide range of horticulture and varied climatic conditions support the development of functional foods, including rainforest, bush and 'farm cultivated' products. Many of the State's tropical crops and indigenous species lend themselves to further exploration. Queensland universities including the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), James Cook University (JCU) and Griffith University have strong research teams exploring the State's unique biodiversity to isolate compounds and bioactives.