A publication of AAEA

A publication of AAEA

Functional Foods: Fad or Path to Prosperity?

Graciela Andrango, Trent Blare, and Guy Hareau


Graciela Andrango ( is Assistant Professor, Western Illinois University, School of Agriculture, Macomb, IL.

Trent Blare ( is formerly Markets and Value Chain Specialist, World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), Lima, Peru, currently Assistant Professor in Food and Resource Economics, Tropical Education and Research Center, University of Florida, Homestead, FL.

Guy Hareau ( is Senior Scientist, International Potato Center, Lima, Peru.

Data Source:

Andrango, G. and T. Blare. 2020. "Theme Overview: Functional Foods: Fad or Path to Prosperity?" Choices. Quarter 4. Available online:

Blare, T., I. Corrales, and L. Zambrino. 2020. "Can Niche Markets for Local Cacao Varieties Benefit Smallholders in Peru and Mexico?" Choices. Quarter 4. Available online:

Devaux, A., G. Hareau, M. Ordinola, J. Andrade-Piedra, and G. Thiele. 2020. "Native Potatoes: From Forgotten Crop to Culinary Boom and Market Innovation" Choices. Quarter 4. Available online:

Andrango, G., A. Johnson, and M.F. Bellemare. 2020. "Quinoa Production and Growth Potential in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru" Choices. Quarter 4. Available online:

Blare, T., M. García-Medina, D. López, and M. Pérez. 2020. "Opportunities in Blue Maize Markets for Smallholder Farmers in Central Mexico" Choices. Quarter 4. Available online:

Peña-Lévano, L., C. Adams, and S. Burney. 2020. "Latin America’s Superfood Economy: Producing and Marketing Açaí, Chia Seeds, and Maca Root." Choices. Quarter 4. Available online:


Demand for functional foods (açaí, chia seeds, maca, native blue corn, native cacao, native potatoes, and quinoa) has increased in recent years creating new market opportunities at the domestic and international levels for smallholder farmers in Latin America. This situation has led to an increase in the prices received by farmers, which has enhanced the household income and wellbeing of some families and motivated them to increase production. This visualization illustrates the roles the private and public sectors have played in supporting producers to access these markets, through product research and development and improving access to financial and training services. As these markets mature, there is a growing demand for providing value-added products. The development of these products, however, cannot be left to farmers alone. Research and coordinated action throughout the value chain (intermediaries, processors, retailers, restaurants and end consumers) is necessary to develop products that not only generate profits but also (and more importantly) meet the needs of end consumers. This visualization aims to spark interest among researchers, development practitioners, policy makers, and other stakeholders in ensuring the sustainability of these markets for functional foods once the current boom ebbs.

Functional Foods: Fad or Path to Prosperity?